Published April 15, 2019
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
Every single business that ever started is a trial and error proposal. The only difference between the trial and error startups that become top companies is that they used the mistakes as learning tools.
The failures, errors or missteps were not blamed on someone else, swept under the company carpet, or used as a hammer to keep beating people down.
Instead, the leaders in these companies and organizations used the mistake as a learning opportunity. The leaders in these companies think along the same lines as Albert Einstein who said, “Failure is a success in progress.”
They take the information in, look at the possible options, and create a better outcome through developing a more effective process.
This may seem easy, but it is really not a natural process for most leaders at any level. The natural inclination is to find someone to blame, make them responsible, and consider the issue resolved.
If this sounds familiar in your company, it is likely that this is a message that trickles down from the very top of the business.
However, as a leader, you have the power to change that message and the tone, creating a culture that promotes looking at mistakes as opportunities to improve.
Imagine how effective it would be in any type of process or procedure for the staff to be able to give insight into how to prevent the error from occurring again in the future. This builds in team input and buy-in, quality control measures, problem-solving and even creative thinking. It gets out of assessing blame for a mistake and lets the leader focus on being solution-oriented, which is a top skill for the entire workforce to develop.
Another important aspect of moving into a new mindset about mistakes is to accept they happen and move forward with the problem solving and solution development. Constantly bringing up past mistakes, or beating yourself up over an error, is sending a mixed message to your employees.
It is also creating a drain on your problem-solving abilities. When people are focused on the past, it is hard to see into the future. It is also more challenging to try something new if the fear of another error has you stuck in a rut or not open to looking at new solutions.
Being able to let go of these is tough for some personality types and for those who see their reputation on the line when errors occur.
Accepting mistakes as something that is going to happen and placing emphasis on finding a practical, workable and doable solution frees people up from fear of failure, leading to innovative, creative and highly effective new processes, procedures and solutions.