Pool & Spa News doesn’t generally make big
Sometimes errors appear in the magazine, but overall, we have a
pretty solid track record when it comes to journalistic
In order to maintain that level of accuracy, I approached this
year’s Top 50 issue with
special care. We have a smaller staff than in the past, which means
fewer eyes are checking every page. In addition, the Top 50
contains a daunting amount of names, titles and numbers, each of
which are easy to get wrong.
It was a very busy week full of stress and tight deadlines, but
we got the issue out on time. It turns out my feeling of a job well
done was horribly misplaced.
The list of top builders contains an error so embarrassing, so
downright stupid, that when I saw it in our advance copy of the
magazine the air literally left my lungs. Anthony &
Sylvan’s new pool construction has a typo which lowered
the number by more than $100 million. (Note: The corrected version
of the Top 50 article is posted online.)
Luckily, the grand totals for A&S were correct, and so was
the firm’s ranking on our spreadsheet. But this was a very
serious error, and the second I saw it I ran over to our page
proofs thinking, “I’m going to find who is responsible
for this, bring them in my office and…no wait, better calm
down first or you’ll make them cry.”
Turns out it was me.
So, after making a very difficult call to Anthony & Sylvan,
I went home and obsessed all weekend about my mistake. I Googled
“Making Mistakes” to see what experts had to say, and
realized that everyone has the same two pieces of wisdom concerning
errors. 1) Let it go and 2) Learn from what happened.
But I had my doubts. First of all, how can you let something go
if there are long-term consequences? I’m a big believer in
personal responsibility, and “Let it go” feels a bit
cavalier to me.
As far as learning from what happened, I spent a lot of time
thinking about that. What is the lesson? There may have been
problems with our in-house checking mechanisms, but on reflection,
I believe that’s not where the error occurred. The mistake I
made was a more spiritual one.
Anthony & Sylvan’s numbers had been written by me on
the margin of the spreadsheet and then typed onto the page. But I
don’t remember doing it. Why? Because I wasn’t in the
moment. Instead, I was worrying about the next issue, or composing
an email in my head, or stressing over how much work I have.
That lack of being here was compounded by the fact that I then
spent Saturday and Sunday reliving a mistake that I could no longer
change. I missed my own weekend, it’s gone forever, and that
spreadsheet was still wrong Monday morning.
Fully inhabiting every moment is the best way to prevent
Paying attention to the present now. And now.