• James Walton

Here’s a Story about a Mistake I Made

I was in a sales meeting recently where I made a mistake. Not a huge mistake, or a particularly damaging one, but it represented an opportunity to learn so let me process it here with you.

It started with 8 people around a conference room table. About halfway through, I was called upon to answer a question posed by the client. I'm wired to enjoy opportunities to display competence, so being asked a question and providing a helpful answer is a strength and something that excites me.

Except in this moment that strength became a weakness.

Rather than pausing to think, or to ask a clarifying question of the client, I launched into lecture mode. I took up nearly 3 minutes of a 30 minute meeting. At one point I even stood up to illustrate my point by acting it out.

The problem was I wasn't answering the client's question. I was answering what I thought was the client's question. Mercifully, a colleague of mine interrupted, redirected the conversation to something actually useful and I silently took a seat.

In retrospect, I realized my primary concern was being-perceived-as-competent. It wasn't a terminal error, but it reminded me of a truth I learned from someone far wiser than me:

A strength becomes a weakness when it's:

  • overused

  • always used

  • used in the wrong context.

Next time, I'll make sure I'm more interested in answering the client's question than displaying my competence.


At Trellis Group, we believe chaos is the enemy of the small business. It's our mission to partner with small business owners and their teams to develop the managerial practices and processes to crush chaos.

If you feel overwhelmed and need a proven system to focus on the next best thing, we can help. Companies who work with us see revenues go up, anxiety go down, and work becomes a force multiplier for good in the lives of your people.

Reach out to discover how the Trellis Group can help you crush chaos.


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