Mistakes are an integral part of our life but still nearly all of us have feared them at some point or the other. The fear of failure is the biggest enemy of innovation and creativity. Imagination needs the ability to face mistakes and failures to reach the desired destination.
I have been through it all in my life journey. Committed numerous mistakes along the journey, failed at times to achieve the desired result. But mistakes only left valuable lessons behind. Here are 5 main lessons I learnt from my mistakes.
Accepting the mistake is the only way forward….
I have been at times hesitant to take ownership of the mistakes I committed, mostly due to fear of punishment. But soon I realised it was always better to accept the errors. We all err in judgements and acceptance not only saves unnecessary wastage of time in fixing the blame but also helps in avoiding the resultant stress.
Acceptance of mistakes helps in early diagnoses of the issue and helps in finding a better solution. One should understand that mistakes only teach if the person takes ownership of the actions/ errors.
It is very important for the bosses to take ownership of mistakes and help the subordinates to find better solutions. It is this encouraging and empathetic attitude which helps in the growth of the people and the organisation. The aim should not be to fix responsibility for the mistake but rather should be to fix the mistake, find a solution.
One got to develop an attitude of converting mistakes into ‘must -takes’. These takeaways from the failures/ mistakes will show the path to the right destination.
Fear of failure leads to nowhere….
Fear of failure is one of the biggest killers of innovation and creativity. It is the attitude of trying and retrying which leads to inventions and discoveries. Unfortunately, most of us just see the final product/ discovery and make no efforts to find about the journey the inventor/ discoverer has been through on way to success. If they had harboured even the slightest fear of failure, they wouldn’t have reached anywhere.
My long service life gave me one main lesson; Every plan may not be successful but if you learn from your mistakes and try again and again finally you will succeed. Success only eludes those who are not willing to try and re-try. If you fear failure and keep sitting at the same place, sooner than later you are likely to be over run.
Mistakes open new opportunities….
Most people take mistakes as an obstacle which come in the way of their growth. These people got to change their narrative and start looking at mistakes as opportunities and not as obstacles. No one wants to make mistakes. My personal experience has been that the result achieved after a mistake has been identified was much better than what we had set our eyes on achieving when we started. Mistakes give time to pause, re-analyse and if need be, modify the plan which usually yields better results.
Earlier a mistake is accepted, easier it is for re-assessing and redefining the goal.
Stay calm…. respond not react….
I suffered from this habit of reacting harshly to every mistake I or my team made. The reaction only aggravated the situation and created unpleasantness and further delayed the project. It is quite late in life I learnt that it is not the shouting but analyzing the situation with a calm mind which helps in resolving the mistake. From then on finding the right solution became so easy for the team.
Life story of any successful person shows that it is the ability to cope with mistakes and adversities played the most important part in their growth story. It is this quality which made them resilient and helped them in following their dreams.
No one is perfect….
No human can ever be perfect. But unfortunately, most of us excel in apportioning the mistake to a subordinate/ colleague rather than accepting ourselves. I also suffered from professional arrogance some point of time in my career; that I know better than you attitude. I could not commit a mistake. I often committed the mistake of not listening to people. The day I accepted that even a subordinate can give better ideas/ plans the going got better for the team/ organization. Allowing the juniors to speak, listening to their ideas foster better bonding and helps.
Mistakes are very much part of life and cannot be done away with it. Only thing in our hands is to accept the reality and work on improvement. Fear of failure has no place in life. If the intent with which a plan was formalised and executed is right no one gets hanged for the failures. Even the most successful people have erred in making judgements in life, but their good intentions carried them through in life.