Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success

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Injured and immature

Q: What are the three (or so) biggest mistakes -- professional and personal -- you've made on the road to where you are today? Were you able to overcome them?

Early in my career, I hadn't really matured fast enough for the opportunities that came my way. I was promoted beyond my abilities, becoming a Fortune 500 corporate department head by age 27. I was still living in perpetual college party mode, which continued until I was 30. Somewhere in that time frame, I took two important visiting VPs in their mid 60s out for an evening of 1988 fun, and they were both missing for the big meeting the next day. Apparently, there is an age limit for drinking shots of Jagermeister!

In high school I played football while injured because the team "needed" me, and I now have ankle and back problems that could have been avoided. Back in the '70s my coach would say, "I understand if you need to come out of the game, but you know we can't win if I put John in there." (The name has been changed to protect the guilty.)

They would wrap my ankle with white athletic tape and spray the now illegal Stickum on there and it would harden like a cast. Here is a tip: If you consent to play football with a homemade cast on your leg, it means you're an idiot. I feel I should have received a special trophy for the most games played with pulled ligaments! I remember a referee asking me, "No. 11, are you limping?" I said, "Yes, sir, but it's a natural limp."

Immaturity and injuries aside, the most memorable mistake I ever made was the mishandling of a very talented friend I had hired. Others judged him as difficult and perhaps ungrateful, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I could have used my knowledge of influence and leadership to handle the situation appropriately rather than take it personally and say things that I knew would not help. After all, the foundation of true agreement is disagreement: it gives you a viable starting point to operate from. It's far better to get your cards on the table and work things through than to take the easy way out and say you're okay when in reality you're not happy with someone's behavior or attitude.

I realize the rift was mostly my fault, but ultimately my friend and I are both better off working separately. Plus I learned a good lesson from the experience: If you apologize for your behavior but keep doing the same thing over and over, either you're not really sorry or you really need medication!

By Garrison Wynn  |  July 29, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success and failure Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The two VPs were grown men. They were the irresponsible ones; not you.

Posted by: gitouttahere | August 2, 2010 12:41 PM
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You are not an idiot because you were pressured as a teenager by your adult coach to play under injury. He should have been fired from his job for putting student health over his selfish desire to win.

No adolescent should be held responsible for following the orders of a trusted adult leader who invokes peer pressure as a manipulation tool. Even for adults, it's hard to stand up for yourself against the combined pressure of a leader and the expectations of your peers.

Posted by: AxelDC | August 2, 2010 10:42 AM
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Yeah, I learned the hard way that Jagermeister is just nasty stuff!!!

Posted by: cmecyclist | August 2, 2010 4:41 AM
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