Two Fold Philosophy on Mistakes


Is there a more ominous sound to come out of an employee’s mouth?  Don’t you just love it when a staffer starts avoiding you, continuously shuffling by trying to stay below the radar?  You recognize that they have a problem they are afraid to bring before you. Almost without exception their demeanor forebodes that they’ve screwed something up.  How do you handle these situations?

I recognized pretty early in my time collecting gray hairs, the following attitude. This philosophy and program has liberated me, and has empowered, even emboldened, my staff.

I have a two-fold philosophy regarding mistakes.

The first step is to recognize the corollary to the accepted expression: “Show me someone who never does anything wrong, and I will show you someone who never accomplishes anything.”  When a staff approaches me to confess a mistake, I say “Thank you. By making a mistake you prove to me that you are trying to accomplish.”  I am successful 97% of the time giving that response.  I’m not perfect; I have bad days too, but I work hard to avoid letting them dictate my actions and responses.

The second leg of my two-fold philosophy is that if we cannot learn from our mistakes we wasted energy in making them.

Say thank you, do what you can to clean up any messes, then debrief to answer the question how can we improve the process to guard against a future occurrence of the same or a similar problem?  As Deming postulates “94% of all failure is a result of the system… not people.”

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford

At Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching we work with owners to harvest the struggles, and yes even failures, to reap sustained growth. Call us today to schedule a complimentary, no obligation coaching session.

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