What Our Mistakes Teach Us

Updated: Jun 15

Listen to them to growing

"It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose."

- Joseph Conrad

Why do we avoid making mistakes? Well, I think it's the way of how we were educated. Since school we start receiving marks for our work and the more mistakes we made the worse mark we received. This approach was created to help us to improve the quality of our work.

For sure, we could redo test if it was too bad, and we could work harder to avoid repeating the same mistake in a future. When we were kids, making mistakes was a normal part of learning process.

Yet, the more experience we gained in life, the stricter the rules had became. Whether it was our parents who demanded only “A” marks, or a teacher who called slow learning students "stupid" (I'm from Russia btw, where public humiliation is a normal teaching practice in schools). Anyway, this strict approach made me think that mistakes were something I should always avoid.

In business life the mistakes do matter. Because the less mistakes we make the more professional we look. We all want to be specialists, because professionals are:

  • Better paid

  • Always in demand

  • Confident and experienced

  • Proud of themselves

Meanwhile, we should understand that it takes time to become a professional. Some of us, who are follow the rule "fake it until you make it" come to the easiest and obvious conclusion - to hide our mistakes to look better in the eyes of our boss, colleagues, and the customers.

This "genius" decision very often becomes the way to nowhere, because we can not really learn and move further until we admit our mistakes. When we admit our mistakes and take responsibility for them, we receive a chance to fix them. When we fix our own mistakes, we learn how to avoid them in a future and we grow as a professional. This is the healthy way of learning. Instead, people tend to spend their nerves and energy for hiding the fact that they screwed up. Alas, hiding doesn’t lead to professional growth.

Here are some methods of hiding mistakes that I saw:

Blame the others

Well, needless to say that this approach is sick. It prevents us from building trust with our colleges. More professional people see who is wrong right away.

Hide the paperwork

This one is smarter, but still sick. If the client/customer notices your mistake, you might get in a serious trouble.

Pretend that nothing had happened.

Avoidance is the way to show your boss that you have a kind of mental problem or don’t care about your work. It doesn’t make you look like a pro.

So the question is — How to become a professional?

We all know what the "human factor" is, and we realize it is not possible to avoid the mistakes. Our brain is not a machine which doesn’t know stress or tiredness. Thus, the first thing you should do is to admit your mistake once you realized it. Then you can talk with your colleagues and try to find the way to fix it. If it involves your boss or supervisor, you might need to talk with them.

Just apologize and suggest your help in fixing the problem. This is the only healthy way to build trust between you and your team, and to grow as a professional.

Thank you for reading!

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