Stress blog

Mistakes happen when stress is high

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. October 27, 2010

A recent experience reminded me of the old adage that warns against being complacent and resting on your laurels. Let me explain.

Approximately 18 months ago, leaders from our community started to plan a trip to Europe to develop economic and cultural relationships with a number of European cities. This program would be a "win-win" for everyone. There was tremendous publicity as the program unfolded. Of course, there were myriad details to be ironed out in advance of the meeting, including coordinating calendars, compliance and regulatory issues, travel arrangements, etc.

The evening of our departure, the senior leader of our delegation casually checked his passport. Much to his horror, he saw that it had expired. He was unable to leave the country. The rest of the delegation had to go on without him.

This was a disaster from several perspectives:

  • Our leader's insight and vision were important to the success of the program, and would be sorely missed.
  • Our European hosts began to question the organizational skills of our leadership.

So, what's the important lesson? A few key ones come to mind:

  • Being overloaded, tired and distracted leads to mistakes.
  • When you're stressed, it's easy to overlook the details.
  • Stress or no stress, the buck stops with you.

What else can be learned from the misadventure of an expired passport?

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Oct. 27, 2010