Sometimes things go wrong on a project, or in a job. It’s no one’s fault, specifically. Something just didn’t quite work out as everyone assumed it would. Occasionally, in these situations, people start to look around for someone to blame. Rarely is it themselves. Even rarer do people shrug their shoulders, admit that the chemistry/idea/methodology wasn’t right, learn from the experience and move on.

This is something I’ve been at the sharp end of before.

These things begin as a promise to really do something stunning, before turning into a difficult and, at times, painful dance where all parties try to make it work (and, usually fail) but no one wants to admit it, in case they are held at fault. The outcome is unhappiness and the beginnings of the ‘point the finger’ brigade’s victory parade.

Yet it need not be like this at all.

If only we’d all got together and, like the adults we are, admitted what we were doing was a huge mistake. And I would have saved the considerable energy I put in trying to make it work, even though I knew in my heart of hearts it was doomed from day one six.

But we didn’t.

Of course, the upshot of this is that resentment sets in (and it does, so let’s not gloss over that) and a feeling of a promise unfulfilled pervades every single action. And yet, often, even at this stage in proceedings, nothing is done. We all pretend it’s not happening.

And there is, perhaps, one reason for this: fear of failing.

To begin with, it’s all shiny and new. And so it’s not easy to accept a wrong decision was made, or the information on which decisions were taken wasn’t quite true. And so, people continue with the status quo for many reasons, even though they really don’t’ want to.

Up until the final two months or so, I still wanted it to work.

And it could have worked. But just as there were hurdles to overcome and conversations that we should have had, all of us were guilty of pretending everything was going great.

No one likes things to fail, and most of us will do anything and everything to make an idea work (which is why people work late on a Monday evening, or are in the office at the weekends). It’s good to have this level of commitment, occasionally. Although not if things are really hitting the wall, and hard. Best thing to do then is get out, move on and put it all down to experience.

I’ve learned a lot during those times when things have gone wrong. But I’ve learned them quickly.

On each occasion, I only wish, for all concerned, that I’d spoken up before and made the difficult and brave (yet actually incredibly easy and not in the least courageous) decision to call it quits as soon as it didn’t feel right.

If you find yourself in this quandary, have some belief in yourself and your skills: it’s not (necessarily) your fault, you will survive (mostly intact), you may have to make some changes to your life in the short-term, and that it’s more dangerous for everyone (you, employer, colleagues, family members, your pets) if you stay being unhappy and do nothing to resolve it.

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