Tutorials and Electives

Fucking Up

 

Everybody does. The size of permissible fuckups depends on the size of your compensation package. Small people can sustain small fuckups. Big ones will sink them. More substantial fuckups can be tolerated in those of larger size, with an almost unlimited carte blanche for smaller snafus and screw-ups. Titans can make enormous, bone-headed fuckups and be celebrated for a time in the business media for them. Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, presided over one of the really big banking screw-ups of 2012, when his company lost billions on bad investments under his watch. He was rewarded with a headline in USA Today that said, “Jamie Dimon Screws Up The Right Way,” and applauded by his fans in Congress when he went to Washington to tell them why additional regulation was unnecessary to prevent screw-ups like the one he just oversaw.

Men and women of normal size can take a tip from Jaime Dimon. He accepted responsibility for the problem immediately, without really appearing too contrite. There is a good lesson in that for us all. People who apologize too much after they fuck up compound their problems. Manly admission of responsibility is good; begging forgiveness is not. In our culture, for some reason, a full apology always seems to be the preamble for additional punishment and recrimination. So blame yourself all you want but don’t fall on your sword in public. Use your fuckup as a chance to request some humble schooling from your boss. Bosses love to give instruction to guys who are courageous enough to ask for it. But don’t wallow in the sea of contriteness. You have better things to do—like move on to your next engagement, which hopefully will not be a fuckup, right? It better not be, Sparky. You’ve only got so many bites at the poison apple, you know.

 

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