5 Learnings from the “Cupcake Incident”

by Jennifer Arnold

Last night, I painstakingly baked and decorated cupcakes for my daughter to take into school in celebration of her half-birthday. I dropped her off at school instead of having her take the bus and began my drive into the office. About 10 minutes later, I received a call from her teacher telling me there had been an incident with the cupcakes. Somehow, the container of cupcakes had fell out of her hands, the lid fell off and the cupcakes ended up all over the floor. My daughter was inconsolable. I decided to drive back to her school and make sure she was going to be okay. When I arrived at her school and reached her classroom, she was no longer crying but still upset. She apologized to me for dropping them after all the hard work I had done the evening before. I reassured her by telling her that it wasn’t a huge deal and that we could make more cupcakes.

After I left her, I thought that there were quite a few learnings that she and I both took away from this incident. And so many things that kids are learning as they grow relate to us adults in our working life too. Here are the top 5:

  1. Always hold things from the bottom. As with a large container of cupcakes, if you only give support to the top, the bottom may fall away. if you give support to the entire organization (not just top-down), the whole organization will stay together and prosper.
  2. Don’t let one mishap or mistake ruin your mood for doing your best and having a great day. A wise person once said, “if you eat a frog in the morning, your day can’t get any worse.” Spilled cupcakes can be cleaned up, and there are still many more events and much to be accomplished.
  3. If you are a leader in your organization, remember sometimes crappy things happen. If there is no irreparable damage, address the situation and move on. Your employees don’t want to live in fear of making small mistakes and being punished for them. The cupcakes were spilled, but no one was hurt and there ARE more cupcakes in the world.
  4. A simple apology, if you are truly sorry, makes a huge difference. If you have been working with a team and made a mistake that affects the project, show others your remorse. Most people understand that mistakes happen.
  5. Lastly, if you don’t get it right the first time, you can always try again. Tonight, we will make a new batch of cupcakes, and my daughter will take them in again, by herself, holding the container from the bottom…





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