Business editor Tom Herbert on what crashing his bike taught him about dealing with adversity.
Bad luck comes in threes, people kept telling me last Thursday, which after a while got a bit tiresome.
First thing in the morning, literally yards away from AccountingWEB towers, I came off my bike in quite spectacular fashion, skittering along the Bristol cobblestones for several yards before coming to rest by a wheelie bin.
Battered and bloodied, but with nothing more serious than a bruised ego I went inside to clean up.
After unpacking my bag I went in search of the first aid kit, but upon returning to my desk my laptop was nowhere to be seen.
The office, reception, bike park and scene of the crash were duly searched, but all to no avail. Now panicking about losing a relatively expensive piece of hardware, I decided it must be at home. After an hour’s fruitless round trip (don’t worry managers – I made up the time!), the offending laptop was found safely stowed under my desk. Oh dear.
Booted up and finally ready to work I moved on to my first task of the day – hosting the AccountingWEB Budget special podcast (still available if you’d like to listen, folks).
After 20 minutes of Budget-based conversation, I realised that after completing the initial sound test I’d forgotten to hit record when we started for real – a truly heart-sinking moment.
Fortunately one of our contributors saved the day by revealing that he had been taping the whole thing – I’ve never been so relieved to be surreptitiously recorded in my life...
Three seemingly unconnected events, adding up to a fairly unproductive day.
“Well, bad luck does come in threes”, several of my colleagues sagely pointed out.
it doesn’t need a bike crash to fluster even the very best”
Which leads me to my central thesis: that instead of being three unrelated pieces of bad luck, it was actually one piece of bad luck and two mistakes which followed because I didn’t deal with adversity as well as I should have.
And it doesn’t need a bike crash to fluster even the very best. Making one mistake on a spreadsheet can lead to many more, as we’ve seen in a number of high-profile cases recently.
An argument that puts you in a foul temper can lead to multiple other disagreements with clients or colleagues, and a rushed announcement before a general election on not increasing taxes or national insurance can lead to an embarrassing Budget climb-down later on (but enough about that).
I hope not to fall off my bike any time soon, but if a similar situation crops up I’ll try to take the advice my wife gave me when I reported my ‘day of shame’ to her: sit down, breathe deeply, perhaps have a cup of tea (and even a biscuit if the AccountingWEB budget will stretch to it), and try to not let it affect the rest of my day. Bad luck comes in ones after all…