Lessons learned from the business sabotage we had to deal with

Part 2: From A Story of Sabotage Most Organizations Would Never Tell You


Following the intentional take down of all Smart Self web properties by a mistaken and disgruntled developer (read the full story here), we want to share our lessons learned.


The Short Story


In short, we hired a qualified developer with a strong portfolio to do some highly custom work for a new Smart Self learning platform that is currently in development. There was a misunderstanding that led the contractor to believe we were not planning to honour our agreement with him. He retaliated by taking down all Smart Self websites in hopes of teaching us that mistreating freelancers has consequences. The misunderstanding was clarified. He apologized profusely and tried to rectify the sabotage. The damage was substantial, costly and kept our sites offline for about a week. We have ultimately rectified the situation, although significant time and content were lost as a result.


World View


We could apply a win-some/lose-some filter to this situation and become bitter. Instead, we choose win-some/learn-some. The lessons we’ve learned are meaningful and hard earned. We hope they serve you as well as we believe they serve us.


  1. Never Ignore Fit


Smart Self has a culture. We know who our people are, and our people know us. Many people who want to work with us will not be able to, and not for a lack of qualifications. In fact, some of the most misaligned candidates are the ones that most desperately want to work with us. But, to paraphrase Jon Kabit-Zinn from his book “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” working with Smart Self is not a solution for employees who distrust companies.


In the case of the contractor in our story, assumptions were made that did not fit with Smart Self’s values. We didn’t properly vet him to ensure that this person shared our views of honour, teamwork, accountability, and trust. As such, we were operating by different standards and the consequences were immense.


Take the time, every time, to find people who fit in your organization. Unfortunately, pairing companies and staff with antithetical belief structures does not lead to open minds. Smart Self applied the Golden Rule even though our contractor didn’t. We will not change our values and beliefs, but we must learn from the situation.


Lesson 1: No matter how short a contract might be, it is always more expensive to hire a bad fit.


  1. Forgiveness Is the Only Path Forward


Sometimes we face scenarios that challenge our beliefs and values. In our story, the sabotage Smart Self experienced challenged our identities. We were tempted to get angry in ways that do not reflect who we are. We felt wronged, disrespected, and betrayed. When we as people want to feel empowered, and quickly, the knee jerk reaction is to retaliate. The only path to lasting and immediate empowerment is forgiveness. So we let go, forgave, and looked toward a solution. Had we not forgiven, we would be continuing the sabotage against ourselves by being stuck in the problem. Instead, we rectified the problem as quickly as possible.


Had we not forgiveness, we would still be drinking the poison served to us. We choose to let go of the hope that the past can be any different. We choose to put all our energy into today. Anyone who ruminates about the past or projects fears into tomorrow remains a slave to history. At Smart Self, we choose to be our optimistic selves, not a reaction to someone else’s reality.


Foolish or Forward-Thinking?


In sharing this story, we continue being the kind of organization we were all attracted to work at from day one. We could be embarrassed about this situation and act like no one need know it happened at all. This would not be true to our values. When we thought about it, we were proud. We had faith and still have faith in people. The developer was treated like a human being and hopefully will be kinder in the future. We would have been embarrassed if we had reacted in a negative way and we couldn’t share the tale. But we’re still us, and we’re proud of that.


Being transparent about our mistakes and shortfalls allows us to learn hard lessons. We are not weaker for having been victim to this person’s machinations. We are strong for practicing our values, and not simply professing them. We have integrity.


Onward and Upward


It has taken us over a week to get our websites close to being back to their previous states. We have taken this opportunity to make improvements to our overall strategy, security, hiring process, content management, and website development. We will endeavour to build, grow and honour who we are in the face of difficult situations.


You will see our blog and websites complete and with new additions soon! Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us through this with laughs, love, and food.


Do you have stories of sabotage that you want to share or hide? Why? (Click to Tweet)


Signing off with honour, teamwork, accountability, trust, and … love,


your Smart Self team

Lessons Learned