I was part of a team today working on a local charity fundraiser. I was to be the big finale - the chocolate fountain. I got the fountain from my mom and got started about an hour and a half in advance. It was melting just fine though not flowing properly. It was too gloppy and sticky. So I added so milk to thin it out. Bad idea. It turned to fudge. I was so upset - this was supposed to be the finale event of the day and it was quickly becoming a disaster. (For the record, if you need to thin chocolate, you need to add a little vegetable oil, not milk.)
Until my co-host looked at me and said - let's take the rest of the chocolate, melt it in the microwave, put it in a nice bowl, and put it out with the dipping items. People will love it. And they did. A few people asked where the advertised fountain was, but no one much cared. They were just happy to have any kind of treat at all. Another co-host announced that the fountain had become a fondue. And everyone accepted that change just fine.
Despite the fact that I was disappointed about the fountain, I did feel good that I had failed at my task and a co-host was able to pick me back up and help me keep going. It's this leaning on each other, helping one another deal with our disappointments, that's going to save us in this tough economy. We need to be joiners and supporters as much as we need to be leaders and innovators.
I wrapped up the goopy fountain and brought it home to clean. As I was rinsing off the last of the chocolate, I began to laugh at myself - a sure sign that the disappointment had passed. And I smiled knowing that friendship had filled in the space where failure had been.