Everyone Makes Mistakes
Accepting the fact that everyone makes mistakes is easier said than done. Everyone is taught their whole lives to NOT make mistakes and have often been trained or re-enforced negatively when a mistake is made. Perfection seems to be the target of most people in their work, relationships and life.
What Impact Does Your Mistake Have?
I think the important factor in determining whether a mistake is acceptable or not is in the impact of your mistake. Most mistakes don’t actually cause any damage and they are generally not intended to cause harm either. If harm is intended, that is more of a choice in action, than a casual every day kind of mistake being made. Do the mistakes you make have a lasting impact or something that can easily be cleaned up or dealt with?
You may have to take care of some cleanup yourself in doing something over, taking more time to fix or repair something or perhaps you owe someone an apology ? Often, a simple mistake has no impact at all, it was simply not done in the way that was expected. Whatever the impact is, take a look at who or what was involved, and decide if something needs to be done at all to recover from the mistake that was made.
Accepting Mistakes in Others
If you’re going to accept your own mistakes then you ought to do the same for others. You can’t easily accept the mistakes of others, if you don’t first accept your own mistakes, so they go hand in hand. Learn to ask some simple questions when a mistake is made to simplify the outcome instead of beating yourself up (or someone else) about a simple mistake.
- How much was I (or someone else) actually hurt from this mistake?
- What is the lasting impact of this mistake?
- Was their harm done intentionally or by accident?
- Can it be corrected? How?
- What can I learn from this?
Learning from Mistakes
That last question is the one I like best to see what is available for learning from a mistake. Mistakes made are truly powerful in teaching new ways to approach problems. This is required to get new results and to improve ourselves so its critical that we look at mistakes as a learning opportunity so it can be improved on next time. If you are never making mistakes, then it is likely that you are not trying new things and learning from them, but instead doing things the same old, comfortable, safe way. This has little learning opportunities!
I believe that people who are willing to make and accept mistakes in others learn the fastest and become more dynamic in their problem solving because they learn to adapt quickly to new things and to change their approach.
Encouraging Harmless Mistakes
So, with understanding that simple mistakes are such a learning opportunity, I recommend that you encourage harmless mistakes. Or at least the behaviors, decisions and actions that have some risk, where mistakes are likely to happen. This is common in doing anything new and especially in things outside your comfort zone . You obviously don’t need to go looking to make mistakes, but putting yourself in new circumstances and trying out new things will inevitably lead to making mistakes. This is a good thing! Its a way to learn and a way to avoid a world of complacency because of any fears of making mistakes!
Encourage these same things with those around you! That may be your spouse, children and family or your colleagues. Instead of making fun of someone’s mistakes or yelling at them when they make a mistake, ask some of those simple questions, see what can be learned from them and encourage others to do the same, its a very powerful tool in life!
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