It's OK to Make Mistakes
Everybody’s Doing It
I challenge you to name one person that has never made a mistake. You can’t. It’s impossible. Sure, you might know that “perfect” person that seems to get everything right. Well, trust me. They have messed up plenty.
From the moment we are born we make mistakes. As kids, we make tons of them. That’s a big part of how we learn things. And then we move on without looking back.
What's The Big Deal About a Mistake?
We have been making mistakes our whole lives, then why as adults are we so terrified of making them? Why do we beat ourselves up so much when it happens? Everyone does “stupid” things or has had a time when what we thought was a great idea turned out to be the exact opposite. These mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. And so do their repercussions.
Mistakes come without warning. If you thought you were going to screw up like that, would you really have done it? I am not talking about a calculated risk not going in your favor. I am talking about doing something that was just plain dumb. Maybe you weren’t thinking at all. We would all like to give ourselves enough credit to think that we don’t do things without thinking, but you know it happens. This is why they are called mistakes, people! Nobody in their right mind walks around going, boy I hope I really screw that up!
If we can't see it coming, why do we let the mere possibility of mistakes paralyze us? Why do we hold back when we get a hint of being less than confident? I know there are people out there that have been afraid to make a move at work or in their personal lives because they are afraid of making a mistake. I am guilty of it myself. I have turned down projects because I thought I might mess up. I have turned down invitations because I was afraid of doing something stupid. It is just a silly thing to do.
Wouldn’t you rather try and fail than never try at all? As I look back on decisions I have made, I find myself regretting NOT doing more things than I regret doing. I am not talking about being reckless and throwing caution to the wind. That falls under poor judgment. I am talking about shying away from opportunity because the result might not be perfect. If everyone functioned with that reasoning, nothing would ever get done.
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Learn from Your Mistake and Move On
What happens when you make that mistake? When you decide to take on the project, or go out on that date, and the dreaded mistake happens?! When you make a typo in the company newsletter. When you get soup on your shirt at dinner. Now what do you do?
Do you crawl in a hole, mortified, and vow to never write or date again lest you suffer the same fate? No you do not. You confront it. Don’t blame the printer for not catching your misspelling. Don’t blame the waiter because the spoon was too small. Fess up to it.
Then learn from it. Next time you write the newsletter, enlist some coworkers to help with the editing. Fresh eyes are the best at finding typos. On the next date, maybe order something a little less prone to spillage. Confront your mistake head on and learn from it so that you are less likely to do it again. Realize that you survived and that you can move forward with a little more confidence.
Don’t try to make yourself perfect. Nobody’s perfect. No system is perfect. So, don’t live your life afraid of not being perfect. Live your life knowing you might mess up, but have the confidence that if you do mke a mistake you will confront it, learn from it, and move on...... And get ready to mess up again, but on something else this time. :)
How I Applied my Theory on Mistakes to Management
One thing I was always sure to tell the staff I supervised was to try their hardest not to make mistakes. A “must” due to the industry I was working in. I followed that by telling them that they will certainly make some and when they do, they need to tell me. Immediately. We will address it, find a way to prevent it, and try harder not to do it again. I was never mad when an employee made an honest mistake. What was unacceptable was hiding the mistake, not admitting the mistake, blaming someone else, or repeatedly making the same mistake.
As a result, my employees were more relaxed. The concentrated on what they were doing, not what they were afraid they might do. Any mistakes were addressed immediately, rather than when it was too late or after it was compounded.
I saw this posted on a facebook page and I agree with it completely: The first time it is a mistake. The second time it is a choice