Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director of Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


There’s a song by The Counting Crows called “A Long December” that gets a lot of play this time of year (hello, ‘90s teen over here). The chorus line, “It’s been a long December, and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last,” is both melancholy and hopeful. December is the time of the year to review goals and outcomes, start performance evaluations, recount our successes, and reflect on our mistakes. As a self-professed Type-A personality, it’s the latter that weighs most heavily on me. I made a lot of mistakes this year; we all did. I spelled a donor’s name wrong on their plaque, misread a contract, forgot to update a colleague on an important issue, hit send on that email before it was ready…and so on.

At the time, these mistakes felt like epic fails. But now, as I review the year and think back on them, I realize I learned something with every single one. My mistakes resulted in improved processes, created better and more intentional communication, and helped my team grow stronger and more focused. ADRP board member Marian Johnson said it best: while mistakes may feel like epic fails at the time, think of them instead as falling forward. Failure is a pretty strong word. But falling? Falling offers the opportunity to get back up and do it right the next time. And forward, well, that’s obvious. Don’t let mistakes set you back. Learn from them, laugh at them (if you can!), and move on. It has been a long December in a long year—and next year will be better than the last.