A recent post by Seth Godin reminded me how great it is to be able to admit when one has made a mistake.
It’s not always great to make the mistake. In fact, often it’s painful, hurtful and downright uncomfortable.
However, when we can admit we made the mistake, take full responsibility for it, and then correct it to the best of our ability, we have taken a giant step in our personal growth as well as our ability to lead and influence others.
I would go as far as to say:
Being able to admit when one is wrong is not only one of the first signs of maturity, but perhaps the foundation of any type of growth and effectiveness.
Yes, mistakes are a key to growth, IF we are able to do that difficult admitting thing. 🙂
Have you experienced the same? How did you grow from a mistake?
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This is something I struggled with for a long time. I always felt I had to be perfect at everything I did and, when I did make a mistake, it was tough to take. I realized that no one but me thought I had to be perfect and that was a big turning point. Especially when I found that I learned so much more and grow by making that mistake than by trying to be perfect. I’m growing. 🙂
I couldn’t agree more. I learned this early on, and as a result, have gained a lot of respect from clients and colleagues alike. Admitting a mistake, and promising that it will be resolved, is much appreciated. It shows that you’re human, yet responsible and professional. I’ve also found that it gives me more confidence in myself and my abilities, personally and professionally. I believe that everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we take responsibility for those mistakes that defines us.
Hi my fear friend, taking full responsability is key of growth when we make mistakes, understanding this we can turn our world around us!!! It’s painfull as you said but it is worth it ALWAYS !!!! Thank you for that reminder, i am so thankful dor being youe friend.
The benefit of admitting my mistakes is something I only learned within the past few years. Not sure why, but prior to that I thought there was a benefit in finding rational reasons WHY I made the mistake. As if finding an explanation for why I made the mistake made it less of a mistake. LOL What a mistake THAT was! Thank you Bob for another great reminder.
Thank you Bob. The change I needed to learn was not to take responsibilities for mistakes I
Had nothing to do with. It would be someone on my team or just someone I decided was not able to handle the consiquences. My responce was not a problem I’ll handle it. I thought this was the correct thing to do. By doing this I wasn’t helping anyone including myself. I’m not sure when it happened but it was in the last year I realized what I was doing. Learning this lesson literally changed my life and it felt like 20lbs weights where taken off each of my shoulders. I take full responsibility for my mistakes (ex:spelling mistakes) and admitting when I have made one. I let other people take responsbility for theirs that way we both have a chance to grow.
I like to think of them as a miss-take, as in film production. Think how many miss-takes it takes to produce a film? A whack. When I think of it in this context I am reminded that risk and error and growth are the three main characters and must coexist. So as you say, it’s very much about awareness, acknowledgement, responsibility, acceptance and re-take- the opportunity to do it better, do it right and to learn. A movie full of unresolved glitches is not so fun to watch:)
Funny that you mention mistakes this week, my friend. We just had a few huge learning experiences during the first week of January, and I wrote a blog post about that exact topic:
Here is a comment about that post:
Thank you so much for your humble and honest “confession” here – what a way to start the new year! Your post allows us to learn from you on 2 levels:
– your summation statements of lessons learned- shared so that others might be able to avoid your same mistakes, and
– your example of true professionalism in admitting mistakes, apologizing, and staying focused on the client’s needs and expectations.
Let’s hope that you’ve overcome the year’s greatest challenges in the first few days of the year and that from here on out it will be smooth sailing!
Thanks for all you do for the design community,
Lillian in Texas
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that life keeps coming at you hard when you keep a shell around yourself that says you’re invincible. When you’re honest and vulnerable, people forgive you, and life is much easier.
saw this earlier this week and thought it was an eloquent reminder
“Don’t place mistakes on your head, their weight may crush you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view your horizons.”
Wish I could attribute the quote, but mistakes are just another chance to make a new attempt at success!
There is nothing I hate more than being in trouble. Must stem from some childhood trauma 🙂 It took me years to figure out I had to own my mistakes and the punishment was usually less severe than all the scenarios I had played in my head. I love your quote because I truly believe when I made the conscious decision to own my errors I feel like I became more effective and confident
Hi everyone – these are all such amazing comments and teaching lessons. Thank you all so very much for sharing your wisdom. My apologies for not responding individually. Please know I read every one of them and how VERY MUCH I appreciate your sharing your wisdom with us. Magnificent!!!!!
I´ll try to live and learn to show my kids it´s alright to make mistakes. You´ll have to learn from them, make up for them (responsibility) and forgive yourself and move forward. So many people live in fear, either they are so afraid to make any mistake, so they don´t do anything (mostly because of fear of rejection) or they are afraid to admit and take responsibility. I was earlier also the kind of person who didn´t forgive myself. I continued to blame myself for past mistakes and I understand now how much that was holding me back. I find a mirror my best friend; always under every circumstance- look in the mirror and say “hello sweetie :), what are you gonna do about this?”. So my words are ; responsibility and forgivness (you´ll also have to forgive others for theirs mistakes and not blame them, keep it against them. Build them up, not brake them down:))
I’m learning that in all actions there are lessons, even when the action is a horrible mistake. The incident that comes to mind is one that happened while I was in high school.
In silence I watched as a mentally challenged girl was spit on, howled at, books pushed out of her hands etc. Her reaction to the abuse became the ‘freak show’ that even the teachers laughed at. In fact, her reaction began to be blamed for the problem. It was said “she deserves it.”
Not only was I negligent in my silence, unfortunately, one day, I joined the bullies. During a homemaking class she sat in front of me and I reached up and tied her ponytail to the string of the large wooden window blinds.
When the bell rang she rushed to the door, raising the blinds. As her body went forward, her head stayed back, causing her books to fly out of her hands. As she rocked back and forth, without even reaching up to free her ponytail, I said to myself, “Oh Father forgive me, she doesn’t have a choice in her reaction.”
I reached for her, pulled her back towards the window. And calmed her as I took the string from her hair. I scooped up her books, apologized and walked her to her next class. She walked really fast, I think to get past the hallway abuses so I practically ran beside her.
That day and the weeks to follow, I met her between each class and carried her books. The daily bullying of pushing her books out of her hands didn’t happen with me carrying her books. And it wasn’t for stature or reputation either, because I was a boney 5’8” girl who hardly ever spoke. (those things have changed since then ☺)
Some of the verbal taunts were still thrown for a week or two, and I would say, “Melissa, look at me. It’s their loss to not have you as their friend.” She would laugh. 🙂 Starting that day, she ate lunch with me, and some of the other basketball players.
After a few weeks, some of the football payers began to meet her at her mom’s car, in the morning, to walk her in. In a matter of weeks, ALL of the bullying stopped and she began to walk the halls at a similar pace as everybody else. And she began, being invited to have lunch with various people.
Here is the thing, neither me nor the football players said a word to defend her, we just became her friend. An entire high school was influenced by action, not by words. This brings to me clarity about the word repent. Repent isn’t just saying you are sorry. Repent means to turn, to change your course, to make right. This in no way implies guilt, because guilt implies punishment.
Facing this mistake and the many others I’ve made, has taught me a great deal more than not trying anything at all, will ever teach me.
At our ten year reunion, Melissa ran up and hugged me, saying I gave her the best high school year of her life.:-) I’m about a foot taller than her, but she got on the top row and stood next to me, holding my hand in our panoramic photo.
At age 15, Melissa taught me the power of love and the power that course correction has, in that this correction influenced an entire school. While reflecting on this I see another lesson: I am not what I say, I am what I do.
“Mistakes” loom large in the piano-playing world-When you make ’em in a performance they’re “rght. out there” so admitting them is not an issue except in cases of extreme self-deception- It is absolutely necessary in practice to go to work immediately to make the corrections so they happen less and less.
Your posts always “apply”-
This one is brilliantly short! So essential “in today’s world” which is precisely the one we’re all in,
Gr8 post @Bob and I must say, @Amy Wells comment brought me to tears. (Seriously)
Your point about learning from mistakes is so true! I am a firm believer in growth only can come from trial and error – and it takes a really strong person, not only to admit your mistakes, but also, reflect on why you made the mistake, and how your actions or attitude should be different next time.
I just finished a book entitled “Everything I Am Not, Made Me Everything I Am,” by Jeff Johnson. There is an entire chapter on mistakes, “Transforming Mistakes Into Opportunity.” It breaks down mistakes into three categories: Intentional – Ignorant – Inescapable. And each one is an opportunity to learn and not only change your actions, but more importantly, change your mindset that drove you to take the action that lead to the mistake.
Gr8 work Bob – Thanks for reminding us we are not perfect and that is okay!
As you know from experience I’m a trial-and-error guy — it’s how I like to learn. And I’ve always been of the mindset that I’ll learn from my mistakes and grow, so I’ve never been afraid to make them.
I am currently in the middle of “Rework,” by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37Signals. In one of their chapters they warn “Learning from mistakes is overrated.”
“With so much failure in the air, you can’t help but breathe it in” they warn. “Don’t inhale.”
Later they talk about the lessons learned from mistakes and failures. They say if you make a mistake, you learn what not to do, but if you learn from your successes you actually learn what works and should be replicated.
I am currently reevaluating my entire model. I’ve never once studied my successes to see what to replicate but have always watched my trial-and-error mistakes to learn what not to do.
My gut tells me they’re right. I guess time will tell how accurate my gut actually is. But the concept of not being afraid to make mistakes still holds true. Fear is crippling. So as Roy Williams, Wizard of Ads says, “Pull the trigger and ride the bullet.”
Great post, Bob. And @Amy Wells, what a beautiful story – thank you!
One thing I learned three years ago, as I was training to become a therapist, was truly life-changing for me. I did a group exercise, inspired by self-help author David Burns, where I asked people to criticize my therapy work – and instead of just acknowledging their criticisms, I “leaned into” them with gusto! “You’re right, I was *terrible* with that last client. In fact, you should have seen me last week, I was even worse than that! I really struggle with techniques like this.”
This was a liberating experience – and afterwards, when the group and I debriefed, we all agreed that these responses not only removed the tension and opened dialogue, but gave *me* more respect and dignity. Ever since then, “leaning in” to criticism has become like my new toy. Try it and see what happens!
SPGonz and Rich, you are welcome and thank you.
I think it was Seth Godin that said we’re not afraid of making mistakes, we’re afraid of public ridicule. This fear of man limits our accomplishments. I would rather fail forward and risk failure than to risk doing nothing and waste my life.
Yours was a beautiful and powerful story, beautifully and powerfully told. I admire your personal growth and the splendid storytellng skill that came with it. There are many of us Melissa’s out there, but few of us had an Amy to get us through. Some of us don’t get through. Melissa did wonders for you, but there is no way to measure the wonders you did for her. I have no idea if Heaven exists, but if it does, you have surely earned yourself a seat.