Yesterday I started the most unusual series about when we suck. It happens to the best of us. Step one is just owning it. Sometimes we fail and the best thing we can do is to just own it and move on. Today I’d like to address the other side of when we suck… expecting it.

This one is personal because like many of you, I’m an optimistic idealist. I always see the cup half-full and I can’t fathom failure. Sure I’ve failed, but it really takes me by surprise. It’s not something I planned for because failure goes against everything I stand for. However, one of the best lessons we can learn is that we have to know that failure is coming and be ready for it. Expect it. When it happens, don’t act shocked and surprised, just initiate the plan you prepared for and move forward.

I was at Starbucks last week. I came through and ordered a Venti Mocha Frappuccino. It’s my summer drink. I sat down and started working and before I knew it, 20 minutes had passed and I was still thirsty. Did they call my name and I didn’t hear them? Did they forget about me? I went up to the counter and they were very apologetic and said they’d have it right up. Three minutes later they came and found me and delivered my drink and a coupon for a free drink the next time I came. They made it right and that’s what I like about companies that fail me, when they’re willing to make it right and earn my business.

However, they didn’t just give me a standard coupon for a free drink. It was a specific coupon for when they mess up. StarbucksCouponThey apologized for the bad service. They recognized that my experience should have been better and they gave me a free drink for next time and hoped that my next visit was going to be better. Not only did they do the right thing, but they expected that they were going to need something like this so that they could do the right thing. I’m assuming that Starbucks prints thousands of these “we suck” coupons so that every store can be prepared for when they do suck… and that’s amazing.

So, the big question I’m asking myself and those of you who are reading this… What’s your plan for when you suck? Do you have one? Do you have a meditated response for parents or volunteers that communicated that you’re sorry, that you know their experience wasn’t ideal and you’ll do what you can to make it right? It’s gonna happen, it’s vital that we’re prepared for it.