Friday, June 25, 2010

I Made a Mistake, and I Apologize

Last week I reacted too quickly. I was upset and tried to prove a point. I still think my point is valid, but in retrospect I went about trying to prove it the wrong way.

My passion got the better of me, and for that I apologize to those I was trying to prove the point to. I respect them, and they deserved better than that.

Long story short, I tried to fake-scuttle something because I thought a colleague was being treated unfairly. This colleague, my friend, a brilliant and capable man, assured me that he could handle it. I didn't doubt for a minute he could, and he did.

My passion got the better of me, and for that I apologize to him. I took it personally when it was something far more important.

It was about many of us. It was about everyone who had stepped in on the ground floor, editing preliminary wiki pages, throwing out ideas, and taking time to sit around the planning table.

My passion got the better of me, and to everyone who put in time, I apologize. My intention was never to actually scuttle the project, but rather to induce a short coma to prove my point.

The point, the one I think is still valid, the one that got the better of me, is that in order to exert influence over the project in today's environment you have to be present, you need to participate, and the participation of any one individual is far outweighed by the collective participation of others. The influence of hierarchy, especially in collaborative cultures, is eroding.

It is a point that all of you who refused to let me scuttle the project proved to me through your actions, and through your refusal to simply let a good idea die because one person couldn't participate; and for that I thank you.

Making mistakes is natural. The trick is learning from them. One of the things that I have learned through this experience is that community - friends and colleagues - tend to know more than you think, and they also cut you slack if you have social capital. Making mistakes is a lot harder when you worry about alienating those you on rely for support. It’s a lot easier when you know they will be there to help you up when you fall down.

I made things personal. I underestimated you, and overestimated my own importance.

I made a mistake, and for that I apologize.

[image credit: mysunshine]

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