We all know what “take your medicine” means in the game of golf. It’s really all about analyzing the risks and rewards of a particular shot. In most cases, taking your medicine involves bumping an iron into the fairway versus trying to rip a shot between three trees sitting ten feet in front of you. The “medicine” prevents you from turning an unfortunate situation into a complete disaster. Sometimes, though, you take the risk by keeping the medicine in the bag and try to hit a shot even seasoned pros can’t pull off. Next thing you know, your ball smashes into a tree in front of you and sails 50 yards backward into a creek. You’re left standing there saying, “I should have taken my medicine!”

Some Hacks can’t resist the urge to take the risk and hit it through the trees on the course, but when it comes to the workplace, we can’t afford to take risks in certain situations. The results of taking certain risks at work could be disastrous for our careers, customers and even our companies. Here are some helpful tips on taking your medicine at work:

Admitting You’ve Made a Mistake

You’ve dropped that ball at the office. We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve missed a deadline, or you’ve overpromised something to a customer and now can’t deliver on that promise. This is not the time to make excuses and try to get away with it. Making excuses and trying to hide mistakes at work will erode your credibility and trust. The best thing you can do when you’ve made a mistake at work is to take your medicine. The prescription for this situation is to admit that you’ve made a mistake, apologize and share what you will do to make things right. How you acknowledge and recover from a mistake at work is often more important than how or why the mistake was made.

Turning Down an Opportunity

You have been asked by a prospective client to provide a proposal on a project. The project looks challenging, but you think that you and your team have what it takes to get the project done. You’re excited about the possibility of landing this prospect as it will give you some serious credibility in the marketplace. 

The prospective client has selected you as a finalist for the project, but you’ve learned that the project is much bigger than originally anticipated, and you don’t have the staff to support the needs of the project and the needs of your other clients. Landing this engagement could improve your status, but if you don’t meet the client’s expectations you could risk your reputation for years to come. In situations like this, you probably need to take your medicine and pass on the opportunity. 

Taking your medicine at work is really all about evaluating the risks and rewards of certain situations and knowing when we need to stop and determine the best decision for all stakeholders. When we get aggressive on the golf course, we risk putting ourselves out of the match. If we take too much risk at work, we risk our careers and our reputations. The next time you are faced with a risky situation at work, think about what prescription is best to reduce the risks for all key stakeholders. It’s one thing to ruin a round of golf, but it’s another to ruin your career.