If you’re living, breathing, and doing anything of value, you will make mistakes. It’s simply a fact of life. The only kinds of people who don’t make mistakes are dead people, and people who are not doing anything. If you assume you don’t make mistakes, you’ve just made one! There are four crucial things we need to do, not if, but when we make mistakes.
The first thing is to catch ourselves. When you mess up, ‘fess up. You may think that nobody has noticed, and you may not get confronted about it; but people notice. If you don’t catch yourself, you’ll lose equity with your team.
Number two is actually confessing the mistake. Whatever department you messed up in, bring it to other people’s attention. Have a chat with your team, your boss, or your supervisor. Identify what you did wrong. This leads us to the third thing.
Learn. You must identify what you’ve learned from the mistake in order for it to be fruitful. Did you learn to ask for permission? To lighten up? To not do something ever again? Identify the lesson, and move forward with that understanding.
Fourthly, we have to make new mistakes. This goes against our natural grain. But if we’re constantly afraid of making them, we’ll never go higher—we’ll create a ceiling for ourselves in terms of vision. Don’t play it safe. Make new mistakes. Just don’t repeat the old ones. Making new mistakes says you are trying new things in new areas—and that is crucial for a leader.
To recap: catch yourself, confess, learn, and make new mistakes. When you put these four elements together, you can start to make mistakes in the most healthy, productive way possible.