Mistake – Not an End, but a Start

I am giving myself an unintended and untimely lesson in something that I used to frequently tell my team.  We tend to think of a mistake as and end step in a process, and a failed one at that.  But we are human and therefore flawed.  We are not machines so we must take into consideration mental state and other factors like how much is going on and whether standard routine is being followed or broken.  Hence, my philosophy – born of my ongoing effort to be a reformed perfectionist – that a mistake isn’t something to harp on, but a starting point for a new chance, more learning, etc.

Right now, I am busy correcting the mistake which was born from my absentmindedness and assisted by activities outside my normal routine.  And I am refocusing recriminating thoughts on my philosophy for the team.  If I believed it to be true for them, and I absolutely did regardless of the size or nature of the mistake, then it must be true for me as well.  I will not beat myself up (I continually remind myself), but I have talked about this in conversations to see what sort of response that I get.

It is very interesting to see how people respond to the mistakes of others, and telling.  The tendency to look down on the mistakes of others is common, and strong.  We feel a need to constantly distinguish ourselves and this is one standard method – ‘I would never do that’.  Women are much more likely to focus on diffusing the self-flagellation, whether the mistake maker is male or female – but particularly if the mistake maker is a friend.

If we are going to be teased or made an example, no wonder the urge to hide a mistake is so strong.  Even though we know, logically that the mistake could grow if not attended.  That repercussions can grow if the mistake is discovered by someone else.  Somehow the draw of avoidance is more powerful than any other and taking ownership along with steps to correct is really, really hard.

lined up to start the race, Vanderbilt, public domain

lined up to start the race, Vanderbilt, public domain

But if we see the mistake as a start, then it is easier to think how to fix it and then consider what we can learn from it for next time.





© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


Filed under Personal Growth, Work Life

3 responses to “Mistake – Not an End, but a Start

  1. Five Quick Minutes

    Failures are just what you said, a start, not a finish. Thomas Edison once said…”I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways which don ‘t work.” He persisted until, of course, he succeeded with inventing the light bulb.

    We are human and therefore given to errors and mistakes of all kinds. But we must start to understand that we grow and learn by our errors. You make that point very well in your post.

    Keep up your good work!


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