Can you shift your relationship with mistakes? If you spend your life fearing or avoiding them, then they’ve got no value to you, well most of you. We want to suggest a new and better way… the way of knowing that mistakes will happen. Mistakes are of great value and sometimes even something you’d pursue.
Know it, plan it
Knowing you will make mistakes is liberating. We’re bothered by the repetitive, pointless mistake in thinking “I have to deliver this perfectly, without a single error”. Such a belief is restrictive, negative and discourages learning.
Embracing that mistakes will happen allows planning for mistakes so you’re absolutely ready to respond to them and exploit every ounce of value from them! Saying “I know I’ll make mistakes” and not planning for them is a mistake!
Here’s how to get the value
Firstly don’t deny mistakes or dwell on them… particularly if those mistakes are against or contrary to the track record. Acknowledge your error but keep things in perspective. Talk to someone else – preferably someone who can help you get that objectivity that you’re looking for. Avoiding needlessly replaying the error or the thinking that starts “if only…”. It happened and no amount of thinking will change that.
Secondly replace negative emotions with a desire to improve. This means channelling your disappointment/frustration/anger into something more positive! How can you make repetition less likely? What can you learn? What do you need to do differently? And obviously is there anything you can you do to make amends? What specific goal will help you to do this most effectively?
Thirdly decide what you’re now going to do with your learning. So get very practical and action oriented. Exactly what you do here is going to depend on the error and what your goal is but a plan is a great first step. And don’t do nothing, unless of course that’s the deliberate chosen plan! Doing nothing is an option so long as it’s not because you’re stuck! Make a plan and start it.
So be ready
So we’re most bothered by people who make the mistake of not reviewing. And bothered by those whose reviews are of mistakes that were very predictable because they’re just the result of being under prepared.
When genuine, unpredictable mistakes happen and are embraced as opportunities then great things can happen. Learning can take place, life becomes richer and performance can improve! When most people are thinking it’s best not to make mistakes, you’ll be looking forward to pushing yourself to see which mistakes emerge and how they fuel your ongoing improvement. Love mistakes. Love them!