Show the emotion you want them to see.

4496215_stdI check my side mirrors before I back up. Sounds routine. Something you learn in driver’s education. But, one time I didn’t and paid for it.

For my first sales job out of school, I had a small, four door, company car that I parked in a tight garage. One morning, I put my bag in the back seat, started the car and backed out of the garage.

Suddenly there was a loud noise and to my left was the back door. I had failed to close the car’s back door and it was now buckled and bent almost to the rearview mirror. Boy, did I feel stupid!


The hard part was telling my boss. I felt so low and disappointed with myself and couldn’t imagine how I did such a dumb thing. I also had to prepare myself for some real discipline, financial responsibility and maybe even get fired.

I went to my boss, told him the story and waited for his response which I predicted to be an explosion. He looked at me and said “No problem, it was an accident, get it fixed, that’s what insurance is for, when will you have the inventory completed?” Inventory completed?! Really? My boss knew I was feeling bad and he knew I understood my responsibility, so he didn’t need to teach me any  lesson at that moment. So he took the positive, supportive route and totally changed my outlook. Principle: Okay, we have a problem, now be part of the solution. Go get it fixed.

Another principle I gained from the boss is “show the emotion you want them to see.” I felt terrible, but he had the experience to know the car can be fixed later, so let’s focus on fixing Greg now. It worked. I had the inventory done in record time, worked till 7:30 that night and was ready to run through walls upon command.

Months later we would laugh at that morning’s events and co-workers would pantomime just how hard it was for me to walk around the back door without closing it. But that morning, my boss took a positive approach to a negative situation and it really made my day.

And, yes, I still check my mirrors to look for other cars, animals and open car doors.


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