Undo, Undo

It gets pretty windy in our office parking garage, and one winter morning the wind was so strong it whipped my hair back and forth, no dance moves required. Once inside I made my way to the ladies’ room to put it all back in place. I combed from side to side, trying to get it just right. When I combed part of it one way, I immediately didn’t like what I had done and wanted to move it back to where it was before. And without thinking, I muttered, “Undo, undo.” And I stopped and thought about what had just happened.        

With much of today’s technology, if we type something we don’t like, we have the option to “undo” it, changing it back to the way it was before. Try a new font and don’t like it? Undo. Insert a sentence that just doesn’t fit? Undo. In fact, I’m using that handy function right now as I’m writing this. But in that moment, staring in the mirror at my outta place hair and comb in hand mid-air, I realized that using so much technology in everyday life with functions like “undo” and “rewind” has my brain programmed to think that we can instantly make just about anything go back to the way it was.

As I walked back to my desk, I started thinking about it; we don’t really have the option to “undo” in real life. When you try something, you usually can’t take it back. You can’t reverse time. You’re in it; you’ve done it; and it will either work or it won’t.  Clicking an imaginary back arrow button doesn’t make it go away. You have to go all in and deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. I’m sure many of us wish we could “undo” some of the things we’ve tried that just didn’t work, whether personal or professional.

But should that discourage you from trying something new? When we do, yeah, we’re taking a risk, because it’s something that you’ve never done before and you don’t know what the outcome will be. But you know what you WANT the outcome to be.  Say you start a new exercise program and your goal is to lose 5 pounds by a certain date.  When you start, you really don’t know what results you’ll get.  You might exceed your goals and find yourself inspired to hit the gym every day, or maybe you’ll discover how much better you feel and just start a routine of walking in your neighborhood a few times a week. Both of these are actually positive outcomes, but you won’t achieve a positive outcome (or any outcome at all) if you don’t get up and try anything. How about that idea you’ve wanted to share with your boss or a new solution to a problem that you’ve been thinking about pitching to your team? Are you afraid to put it out there because you’re just not sure if it will be a success or a flop? You won’t know if you don’t ever give it a chance.  We can’t always undo all the things we try, but we shouldn’t shy away from trying new things just because we don’t know if it will work out. We just make the adjustments and go with it– whatever happens will happen.

And what’s the worst that can happen? Life will keep moving forward and you get to decide how you will, too. Who knows, that new thing you’ve wanted to try could bring about a small, positive change or it could end up being that next best thing! If we all sat back and thought about it, there are many times where we’ve said, “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” to opportunities we didn’t take. We can’t undo everything, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from trying. If it doesn’t work, we have the choice to correct it, let it go, or move on.  Now where’s my comb?

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About the author


Jacqueline Terry is the internal communications manager at Celanese. In her spare time, she enjoys playing flute, reading and traveling.

There are 16 comments. Add yours.

  1. Coralie Richard says:

    Very inspiring post, Jacqueline!

    Your post mirrors literally and metaphorically my fortune cookie’s quote I had last week: “You can’t control the wind, but we can always adjust the sails”.

    • Jacqueline says:

      So true, Coralie! We can’t always predict the outcome, but we can choose how we respond. It’s up to us. Thanks for reading my blog!

  2. Margie Dolch says:

    Hi Jackie, I love your analogy.We underestimate how small positive changes can turn into bigger and better things. Life is worth taking risks we have the opportunity to make the most of each day. Thank you for your encouraging words and sharing this personal story.

  3. Maria Valehrach says:

    Great post, Jackie! You’re right, we tend to think that whatever we do, it’s done for good. And, that thinking can hold us back from doing it in the first place. My band director used to say, “If you’re going to play the wrong note, play it loud and proud!” Your post is a great reminder to just get out there and do it!

  4. Ben Boutaleb says:

    Nice blog ! I caught myself pinching an article in a page of a paper magazine trying to zoom in. Technology !!

  5. Randy Wilson says:

    Such great perspective on how we can contribute to making Celanese a better company and better culture. If everyone commits to “putting it out there” as you suggest and managers encourage such behaviors from their teams, we are likely to see better outcomes and greater engagement.
    Thanks for encouraging us to step up.

  6. Caitlin McCoy says:

    Jackie, this was such an enjoyable read! I truly feel encouraged to try something new! It reminds me of the quote in our break room – “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

    Great blog – keep ’em comin’! 🙂

  7. Randy Skattum says:

    Jackie – Thank you for sharing! Great blog, great message, and a great reminder to each of us to take the opportunity to explore.

    When we’re given the opportunity to try a “what if” – whether we succeed or fail – it is a learning and development experience.

    Thank you!

  8. gretchen says:

    Jackie, thanks for such a thoughtful post. It’s so easy to think “failure” instead of “trying and learning.” That’s for reminding us that this is how we learn and grow.

  9. Pedro says:

    what a good post, many times we do everything without ask ourselves —what’s the worst that can happen?— because you are right in the real life UNDO doesn´t exist… thank you for that lines…

  10. Susan Rahe says:

    Great points, Jackie. I’ve found too that often when you “put something out there” – other folks are already having similar ideas and you can build it out together.

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