Yesterday I made a mistake, at work, what a way to start a Monday. As someone who is extremely hard on herself, trying to be good at everything, dealing with making mistakes and learning from experience is a significant area of development for me. Starting out as a young professional, my resilience skills were extremely low. I found (and still do find – although I am getting increasingly stronger at this) it hard to bounce back from a bad situation, a mistake, to pick myself up when something goes wrong. Evidently this can have a significant impact on your day and even your week, with the danger of impacting upon delivery.
I have been working on strengthening my resilience skills for the last 18 months, focusing on being action orientated to turn situations around, as opposed to losing myself in the black hole of worry, stress and overthinking. I try to have a wider perspective on situations, considering them in the grand scheme of the world and really nailing down on how severe the impact actually is, rather than than what I think it is. I can see a real difference and a real growth in myself in this area therefore thought it would be appropriate to share some tips.
[Determine the Scale of Your Mistake Before Creating a Plan]
So on Friday afternoon I sent out some information, in the completely wrong format, making the document unreadable and quite frankly, of no use to anyone – not the biggest mistake in the world. However, when your CRO is on the list of recipients, this mistake carries some precedence. With regards to creating a plan, I had a few options; break down and cry [tempting], leave work and never come back [also potentially tempting], recall the email, personally proceed to every recipient’s desk grovelling at their feet or simply, fix the problem – resend the information with an accompanying apology that it was not sent correctly the first time.
I could have recalled the email, but that may have taken just as much time and hassle as simply re-sending the information. I could have grovelled at all recipient’s feet, but was the mistake really that severe that merited a personal apology? I didn’t think so. Make sure your resulting actions are appropriate to the severity of the situation.
[Confide in Someone You Trust]
Worrying about something alone is never helpful. Being the world’s biggest extrovert I like and need to externalise my feelings to feel better. Having someone reassure you not only makes you feel better, but provides an objective perspective on the situation.
This one is important. We all make mistakes, we cannot be [no matter how hard some of us try] perfect, things can and do go wrong. A leader is someone than remains calm under pressure, maintaining credibility and reliability, even when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Better decisions will be made when emotion is removed and problems looked at objectively, removing the potential for knee jerk reactions and rash decisioning. Take time to process what has happened, consider your options carefully and proceed to mitigate. If it has been a significant mistake that does have severe impact upon someone or something, it can be incredibly hard to stay calm but what is key to remember is that what has happened, has happened and you cannot change that, however you may be able to better the situation and the more calmly you can do so the better.
[Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice]
An oldie but a goodie. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error”
Learn from experience, every day is a learning day and If you treat your mistakes as lessons – you will improve time and time again.
Again, this can be hard, especially when we hold such pride in our work, our personal brands and our reputations. However, one must have perspective, will it bring your organisation to its knees? Most likely not, are you going to lose your job? Probably not. Will the world end? Most definitely not.
Will you potentially have to apologise for slipping up, being negligent or not paying enough attention? Potentially, but that’s OK – for the most part, people are kind – and they are empathetic, they will know what it feels like and as long as your apology is genuine – I can guarantee they will accept it.
JK Rowling on perspective after experiencing significant failure
[or what society would deem to call failure] at an early stage in her life;
‘My greatest fear had been realised, yet I was still alive’
Watch her Ted Talk on the Benefits of Failure and Making Mistakes here
Be Resilient | Be Strong