Lara Simmons
From the Members

Making Mistakes

Lara Simmons on June 9th, 2011 No Comments

Making a mistake is an opportunity to ask yourself: What do I need to know about this?

“When something goes wrong, ask yourself: ‘What do I need to know about this?’ instead of playing the victim or asking ‘Why me?’” –Maureen Moss

The first week I worked at Verity I was off in my cash drawer – by $1500.

My first instinct, of course, was to panic. Clearly I was going to be fired. How would I get another job? Would they think I took the money?

Turns out I had started counting my cash, then helped a member with a withdrawal for $1500 and went back to counting my cash without refreshing my cashbox; thus the missing $1500.

That day I learned to always refresh my cashbox before counting and I have not made this particular mistake again.

A few months later I was off in my cashbox again. Only this time, there was no easy answer. I had made a “bank error” in someone’s favor and I could not figure out what I had done wrong.

Forms were filled out. A meeting was scheduled. I was distraught.

It took me a few days – and more than a little bit of panic – to realize what this mistake was teaching me: Triple count your cash. Every single time. Even if it’s a lot (especially if it’s a lot…) and you are trying to transact quickly in order to provide good customer service.

This lesson has served me in good stead. More than once my third count has revealed a sticky bill, hiding behind another, just waiting to alter my cash count. And I have not been off in my cashbox since.

A couple of weeks ago I made another mistake. I deposited a check into the wrong member’s account. Doh!

The member, who I’ll call Merry, called our Member Service Center to let us know about the mistake and they called me to make the correction. Turns out the very same thing had happened to this member, who just happens to have a name very close to the name of another member but with a bit of an unconventional spelling, two weeks earlier, also at our branch. Double doh!

I made the correction and picked up the phone to call the member.

As I did I reflected on how this might go…..I know that these kinds of mistakes (mistakes with our money, our livelihood) can hit people hard and bring up a lot of fear. Having it happen twice in two weeks is bound to make a person scared. So I was prepared.

I was prepared for frustration. I was prepared for anger. I was even prepared for yelling. What I wasn’t prepared for was Merry.

“Oh don’t worry honey, it happens all the time!” she laughed. “Even my doctor can’t get it straight.” (Insert “surgery gone wrong” joke here.)

We chatted for a few more moments, I apologized again and we hung up.

In the end it was no big deal, but this conversation has stuck with me and I have been asking myself: What did I learn from that mistake?

The first thing I learned is to verify every member. Before completing a transaction I now ask each member one verification question such as: “Middle initial M?” or “Birthday on June 9th?” Just to be 100% sure I am using the correct account.

But it seemed to me that there was a deeper lesson to be learned from this mistake as well and here’s what I’ve come up with: This mistake was a reminder that I always have a choice. I can choose to REACT from a place of fear or to RESPOND from a place of love.

Merry chose love and I am ever grateful. I intend to “pay it forward” the next time someone makes a mistake that adversely affects me.

What have I learned from all of these mistakes? That there may be more to be learned from our mistakes than first meets the eye and that curiosity is a much better way to deal with mistakes than panic.

Making a mistake is an opportunity to ask yourself: What do I need to know about this?

Lara Simmons

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