Looking for the secret ingredient for success? Make a mistake!
And yet, making mistakes isn’t encouraged.
How often do you remember being praised for making a mistake? When you screw up, does the person you admire and respect congratulate you and lavish you with attaboys?
I can’t recall EVER being rewarded for a miscue; it wasn’t — and still isn’t — the acceptable thing to do.
Our entire life we have been taught to not make mistakes, from school to work. Get 100% on the exam and develop a perfect strategy for the organization you work for.
And when we fall short of those expectations we are forced into remedial work to correct the things we did wrong so that the next time we will get them right.
It’s all wrong. Human beings make mistakes; some more than others but everyone screws up at one time or another.
To try and eradicate mistake making is senseless, unproductive and misses an opportunity to turn the “failure” into an epic win.
As long as we are going to make mistakes shouldn’t our academic institutions and organizations should be teaching people how to turn them into amazing outcomes rather than scolding them for doing it?
NO! because the teaching narrative is always about “do it right the first time” and be perfect.
Schools don’t get it
The tools to at least have a good chance of achieving a position result remain a secret in the hallowed halls of our teaching institutions. “How to make the best out of a mistake” doesn’t appear on any school curricula or on any organization’s internal training agenda.
So, we are left with the enigma of teaching and expecting perfection in a world where unpredictability and uncertainty govern the dynamics of our environment and human beings are left to survive its forces.
An impossible task without making mistakes.
Weirdly, the mistake has a profound impact on our lives.
The mistake is the best teacher you’ve ever had
When you get something right, you receive positive reinforcement and a satisfied feeling of achievement, but when you get something wrong, there is an even more powerful emotional impact that motivates us to “fix it” and prevent it from happening again.
In particular, a setback on a real world issue where the consequences can include a loss of a relationship, a furious customer or a loss of revenue can motivate us to get it right much quicker than merely getting the third question on a math exam wrong.
The mistake can make you better off
Ironically, a mistake that is fixed fast can improve your situation more than if you never made the mistake in the first place. Proper recovery from a mishap — repair the situation fast and then do something extra — can build customer loyalty or enhance a personal relationship.
The recipient of your mistake is so impressed with what you did to remedy the situation they soon forget about the OOPS! that caused them the original discomfort.
The mistake can make you more human
A mistake shows that you are more than superficial veneer; someone who is flawed just like everyone else. This is an endearing trait to most people as compared to the phoney slick image that some people like to portray.
Humans are liked and respected more than plastic; the mistake fortifies the former and dispels the latter.
The mistake can build your personal brand
The ability to morph a “bad” situation into a delightful one is a personal brand dimension that few people possess. An individual who can turn a mess into a positive outcome is extremely valuable to an organization struggling to weave their way through complex and uncertain markets.
The mistake forces you to look for another path
It stimulates the creative process to explore other potential avenues to take. In fact it’s not about the mistake at all; rather the moment after the mistake. Problem solving in today’s environment requires nimbleness and the flexibility to consider all options available, and the mistake brings this to life in a very real way.
You have no choice but to look for another plan if you are to move forward. The mistake is the visceral reminder that you must always have “Plan B” available.
The mistake can separate you from the crowd
BE DiFFERENT or be dead is my mantra. If you can’t find a way to separate yourself — as an organization or individual — from the crowd, you will go unnoticed and sooner or later you will fail.
The mistake can be the catalyst for discovering how you can standout from other people who are totally consumed with trying to get things right that leave themselves exposed and vulnerable when things go wrong (and they eventually do).
If you excel at squeezing the best from a mistake you will be truly unique in a sea of others struggling with trying to achieve perfection.
Learning how to prevent mistakes is a laudable goal but an unachievable one; learning how to live with them is essential if you want to be successful.