Everyone Makes Mistakes

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

7 June 2019

Call it what you want: a mistake, a blunder, a faux pas, a misunderstanding, a slip-up, an oversight, or an error. We’ve all made them, and we’ve all watched our friends and loved ones make them, too. I can’t help thinking about an episode of Sesame Street I watched as a toddler. As Big Bird eloquently put it:

Everyone makes mistakes
Oh, yes they do
Your sister and your brother
And your dad and mother too

Big people, small people
Matter of fact, all people
Everyone makes mistakes
So why can’t you?

Whether it’s a small mistake – such as forgetting to attach a document on a client email (been there done that!) – or a big mistake – such as missing a typo on a piece of collateral after 5,000 of them have been printed and mailed to a client (unfortunately, I’ve also done this), it’s a learning experience. And if you have the right team, even the biggest learning experience doesn’t mean you’ll be abandoned, fired, or exiled. As Big Bird also points out:

If you make a mistake while counting to ten
Well don’t get mad and don’t be sad;
Just start to count again
And if you should only get to eight or nine
I’m still your friend and I still like you fine.

A $69 Billion Blunder

Last year, CVS agreed to purchase Aetna for $69 billion to reduce costs of providing care to Aetna’s customers. Over the past year-and-a-half, this merger has come under serious scrutiny. Currently, a judge is responsible for deciding whether the merger is lawful and will be approved under the Tunney Act. I’d hate being put in the situation of making a judgment on a potential mistake of that magnitude. I wonder if his team will support his decision, and I wonder how CVS and Aetna will react as members of his team if they lose out on the potential deal of a lifetime. Even after dishing out almost $70 Billion, CVS will have a larger potential gain if they are able to exclusively own Aetna’s 19 million customers. Their earning potential could be limitless.

 Whether you’re breaking anti-trust laws or forgetting to attach a document on a client email, rest easy: If you learn a lesson from the faux pas, you should be in the clear. And sometimes mistakes of the CVS/Aetna magnitude are needed to teach lessons of the same size. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. And as Oscar Wilde famously said:

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.