Okay, I know that spring is around the corner. It better be, because I’ve just about had it with these Chicago winters. Do you know that a lot of the towns ran out of salt and had to use sand? I know: there are worse things, but really, it made such a mess.
And speaking of messes, even though spring is upon us (because it just has to be) and that generally means a type of renewal I think we’d be wise to look behind us and figure out how we might have done things differently. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year for this exercise. In fact, when it comes to examining our mistakes we could probably do this on a weekly basis. And if you have people to remind you of your shortcomings whether it’s a tactless boss or free-speaking teenager then you’re a step ahead when it comes to analyzing your mistakes.
But it’s always better, I think, to be the master of your own errors. In other words, if you make a mistake, it’s best to come clean in your words. Don’t wait for someone else to stand up for you. And as I called it in a book I wrote, consider this strategy as performing “mistake magic.” Here’s the quote I used at the top of the chapter title: “There’s nothing final about a mistake, except its being taken as final.” That came fr om Phyllis Bottome, “The Plain Case,” Strange Fruit (1928).
As you think about how you can learn from your mistakes at work and how the lessons can make you a more valuable player as yourself these questions:
- Do I admit my mistakes?
- How accepting am I of other people’s mistakes?
- Do I forgive myself when I’ve made a mistake or do I feel unworthy?
- Do my mistakes bring me to a standstill or do they help me move on?
- Do my mistakes define who I am?
- Is my life richer because of the mistakes I’ve made?
- Can I achieve my career goals without ever making mistakes?
That last question is really ridiculous, isn’t it? We’re human and we make mistakes all the time. How could we grow without our blunders? We would stay the same without them and that’s a fairly awful thought. Remember those yearbook entries in which our high school chums implored us to “never change” and “stay the way” we are? Awful, awful, awful advice!
Generally speaking, we’re not rewarded for the mistakes we make. But our mistakes can offer certain gifts if we choose to see them as a lesson to be learned instead of a source of shame and regret.