Happy work Humans Leadership Operations

What You Really Need to Know About F-ing Up At Work

Tracey Foulkes
Written by Tracey Foulkes

I want to speak to you about fucking up. As I seen it emerging in our team this past week, there are 3 different ways to fuck up – I’ll define them as: mental, physical + emotional fuck ups … and because I believe our brains are to blame, I’m thinking this is a matter of science, so please do not be offended by my harsh language.


I’ve seen this emerge a couple of times this week, to be honest it was the inspiration for today’s musing. I’ll give you an example here and then you can ponder your own as a form of self therapy in the name of moving forward.

Scenario: You think you’re not doing a good enough job, you don’t want to disappoint, but you don’t ask for confirmation all the same. You start to second guess yourself, your ability + your performance. It serves no purpose other than making you feel seriously second rate.

Possible solution: Ask for the confirmation you seek. I mean pick up the phone, or tap through a message, hop on to a Skype, send a carrier pigeon … just stop assuming and ask.

Something like this might help “I think I’m on track and doing a great job, can you just check in with me as to where you are at. Am I meeting expectations or should I be trying another approach?”


Scenario: A serious self sabotage strategy … you kid yourself that you are doing everything you can but you leave things hanging, lots of things started but not everything ended. This causes others around you to question your excellence, it’s like a super slippery spiral which leaves them in micro management mode and you bereft and forlorn and feeling like an under achiever.

Possible solution: Break your projects into smaller chunks and turn off interruptions and micro focus for a while where it matters. Work to a timer, set a reward, speak to your team members about shifting deadlines. Know deeply that delivering something (anything) is better than delivering nothing at all. Ask if the expectation is for the Mona Lisa realistic replica or if a wireframe sketch could pass.


Scenario: You’re stretched to the core, working like a dog, not coming up for enough air … you feel a sniffle coming on but ignore it in the hope it will go away and still you motor on and on and on. What makes things worse is you forget to eat (a chocolate doesn’t count) and you struggle to sleep and feel immense guilt cause you’ve slipped into emotional and mental fuck up mode too.

Possible solution: Stop, pause, breathe. Last night I laughed so hard at a ridiculous photo of our CXO, Bryony (a return photo in response to the one I sent her of me) that I felt I’d gained 10 years on my life. Stop taking yourselves so seriously + instead, listen (carefully) to your body, take time off to regroup, recharge and stay well … mentally – physically + emotionally.

IT’S OKAY TO FUCK UP sometimes ….

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