Sticky Situations

…and lessons learnt.

There have been times in life that I like to think of as divine interventions but there have also been a few face-palm moments which, if going with the divine intervention theme, one can only assume the ‘divine’ is having a good old laugh at my expense.

You know the kind of moments I’m talking about. Those that make you grit your teeth with embarrassment, perhaps add a rising flush to the cheeks or a total ‘what the holy frickamoly’ just happened?

Yeah, those.

Well, there have been a few on my part.

I’m talking about you:

novice night-diving incident,

car-beached with the tide coming in episode,

oh, and how can I forget, the 4am airport transfer covered in someone else’s vomit, experience?

All stories for another time. But for each there is a lesson when we get to reflect with hindsight. Even if it is just packing a spare t-shirt in your hand luggage.

Sometimes that reflection comes way down the line in the future when the actual incident has enough water under the bridge to wash away any embarrassment.

I remember when I first worked in recruitment, cold calling was a big part of the job. We had an open plan office which our Sales Director used to pace like a power-fueled catwalk session, calling out some of her motivational catchphrases, her favorite being,

“Smile when you dial.”

To me, she was terrifying! I tried, hard, to hold firm to my mindset of I am I can.

I can do this! But it wasn’t always easy. She was a fierce woman who would tell you in front of the whole team, when she thought you weren’t performing, who would make you question why you were even in this job when you hadn’t completed ALL your sales calls in a ridiculously short amount of time, who would click the speakerphone button on your phone mid-conversation with the client to listen to ‘how you were performing’.

She was indeed my nemesis at the time and my heart would sink every time it was her visit day to our office.

Anyway, I digress, this particular day I was on one of these calls and she pulled up a seat next to me. My contact wasn’t available, but I was leaving a very professional voice message. It’s worth noting here that I was also up for promotion to Senior Consultant. I’d reached the end of my call and hung up.

She stared at me in disbelief, then one by one the whole team turned around to look at me. Apparently, everyone tunes in when you are being scrutinized…

Cue sinking feeling in the stomach, face-flush…

In fact, the whole menu of, ‘what did I just do?’

with a side of, ‘oh shit’. To go.

Turns out, I had finished the message with,


And I hadn’t even realized I’d done it!

I was totally mortified. Should I call back? Should I bring it up when I next speak to them?


Of course, it was an accident and there are worse things than telling someone you love them, even if they are a professional contact, but being in this sticky situation taught me a lesson, not to let others take control of your emotions. It’s a lesson I’m still working on today, but here’s the thing, it was because I was so caught up with her opinion of me and the fear of failure that my brain went into autopilot. If I had tried to keep focused on what I was doing and being in my true moment, chances are, it wouldn’t have happened.

How often have others caused you to second guess yourself, or question your abilities?

More often than not, being challenged in a positive way (physically, mindset, personal growth, career) is a good thing, a healthy thing, something that helps to shape our character.

Only when we have given permission.

When someone rules our emotions, without our permission, it’s like giving in to the school yard bully. And, what’s worse is that we are the ones allowing it to happen.

Here are 3 tips to keep control in similar situations:


You are you and that’s what makes you unique.


How will you feel about this five years from now? If five years from now it has no relevancy, why spend even 5 minutes worrying about it now. You have better things to be doing!


Your tribe who are there to share these moments with, who will laugh with you, cry with you, cringe with you before helping you see things for what they are and move on. Lastly, sticky situations in general are the best stories to tell! Perhaps when our lesson is learnt, whatever that is, we embrace what happened, in all its gut-churning glory, after all, it’s times like these that shape us, and who doesn’t want a good story to tell!