The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
It was an ideal day for a wedding. The sun was shining and was seventy degrees on top of one of downtown Cleveland’s taller rooftops. The airshow was to my right, and the entire span of the Cleveland skyline to my left. The wind died down as we placed decadent white flower boxes overflowing with hydrangea at either end of the aisle overlooking the city. I went down to the ladies’ dressing room and gave the bridesmaids their corsages and the bride her bouquet. The bride was overjoyed, ecstatic. And I, as the head of business operations for a fledgling floral business, was happy things were going so well.
Fast forward seven hours later. The last of the guests were leaving the wedding reception while Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing escorted people out of the ballroom. I, on the other hand, had stopped believing. During the seven hour gap of time between the set up of the reception and the tear down of the reception I allowed two of our employees (who are also seniors and my friends) to go to their last season opener football game. They promised to reappear a half an hour before the tear down. As a friend, I thought I was being understanding, and as a boss I thought I was being reasonable. Meanwhile, it was midnight and countless texts and phone calls had been sent, with no reply from the football enthusiasts. It had already been a long day that started at 9:00 am, so my colleagues and I were anything but enthusiastic about this complication. I was upset not only as a boss, but as a friend. I trusted the employees to go to the football game and come back to help clean up. Unfortunately, I did not stress the importance of their return, and in general, the importance of their communication with me throughout the night.
Being able to work at a business with my peers, who are also my friends, for the most part has been a fantastic experience. However, it has become trickier for me to distinguish my positions as friend and boss since I have been promoted. I’ve learned that our youth can be a huge asset to a company, especially a floral business that is commonly viewed as a more antiquated business. Clients are consistently amazed with our work as high schoolers and are impressed with our fresh perspective. At this wedding in particular, stress levels were high as it was our first time working at the particular venue. Being short two employees by the end of the night did not help with the pressure of having to promptly tear down the reception for an event being set up for the next morning.
I look to my dad, a businessman, for guidance in the decisions I make as head of business operations. In situations like this, he will sit me down, asking me questions that guide me through what I could do differently in the future. After all, an underlying factor that must be considered in any successful business is the importance of communication. While this is definitely a two-way street, I could have made sure the employees who were leaving understood the importance of staying in contact with me to ensure a more seamless night. Detailed planning and strong communication are key to a business’ success. While I believe we had a strong, detailed plan in mind for tear down that evening, my choice to hope for the best rather than plan for the worst made it frustrating and exhausting. It made me briefly doubt myself as a leader and made me feel uncomfortable as a friend, but it was an indispensable lesson learned.