6 things to remember about mistakes

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Mistakes. Everybody makes them. Here are half a dozen things to remember about mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes

That means everybody, including you. Everything you read in this post will apply to everybody, including you.

Most mistakes are insignificant

Most mistakes don’t matter much. The people who make them usually catch them and fix them. You don’t have to comment on most mistakes. So don’t.

We’re more mistake-prone at some times than others

We’re all more likely to make mistakes in some common situations. We’re mistake prone when we’re tired or stressed. People are more likely to make mistakes when they’re learning. Then, they’re the price you pay for better performance in the future.

When you notice that a teammate is in one of those mistake-prone situations, help them. Don’t scold them.

Pay attention to a pattern of mistakes

A pattern of mistakes is a problem to be solved. Start with finding the cause. It might be a mistake-prone situation. It might be a problem with resources, including time. It might be a process problem. Ask “Why?” enough times to find the root cause. When a mistake happens again and again because of process or resources, fix the process or provide the resources.

Some mistakes are teaching moments

When a person makes the same mistake over and over because they don’t know how to do things right, it’s a teaching moment. Remember that part of your job is to help teammates grow and develop.

Mistakes are part of life

No matter how hard you and your teammates try, you will all make more mistakes. It’s a human thing. So, don’t aim for perfection unless you want frustration in the bargain. Aim for improvement and excellence. There is no progress without mistakes.

Some of my favorite quotes about mistakes

“It is easy to blame others for our own mistakes, but hard to correct them by doing so.” ~ Russell Ackoff

“The important thing in my view is not to pin the blame for a mistake on somebody, but rather to find out what caused the mistake.” ~ Akio Morita

“Mistakes can usually be corrected later. The time lost in not making a decision can never be retrieved.” ~ Jan Carlzon

“Life is the art of new and better mistakes.” ~ Rev. Dr. Walter E. Bock (my dad)

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