It’s no coincidence that we have so many ways to say we made a mistake: botched, flubbed, mishandled, misjudged, mucked, messed, screwed or goofed up – just to name a few.
As a leader, you’ll hear each of these (some more than others, and likely some more explicit than the ones I’ve named here) pretty often. When you do, it’s important to first try to remember that whoever made the mistake probably didn’t mean to.
Put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself if you have ever made a mistake. A bad decision? Have you ever said something you regret? Ever disappointed your boss? Jumped to the wrong conclusion? Done something foolish or outright stupid? Everyone has. Sometimes a simple reminder of our past failings enables us to be a little more tolerant of others’ missteps.
Mistakes don’t have to be the end of the world. Mistakes are inevitable and are often essential to learning and progress. They should guide you, not define you, on you and your employees’ journey to success. Mistakes show effort, and if you learn from them, they can be some of the best tools for growth.
I’ve heard it said before that the only people who don’t make mistakes are those who do nothing at all. To me, the most interesting part about errors is the gradual evolution in how they’re classified. First, they start as mistakes. Then they turn into lessons, followed by experiences and finally as gifts that help us succeed.
Therefore, the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Keep that in mind as you’re dealing with your employees or considering your own shortcomings. It’s one thing to recognize that mistakes are learning opportunities – it’s another to actually implement that concept in your organization.
About the Author: Robert Stevenson is one of the most widely recognized professional speakers in the world. Author of the books How To Soar Like An Eagle In A World Full Of Turkeys and 52 Essential Habits For Success, he’s shared the podium with esteemed figures from across the country, including former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Anthony Robbins, Tom Peters and Steven Covey. Today, he travels the world, sharing powerful ideas for achieving excellence, both personally and professionally.