What happens when you get something wrong?
I was testing a mentor’s online course today and I wanted to see what happened when I got the ‘end of module’ questions wrong.
What would she think of me if I got it wrong?
Would she laugh at me? Would she have second thoughts about working with me? I secretly hoped that she never sees the answers, but on the off chance she did, I answered the most laughable wrong answer that was available (it was multiple choice) but I was mindful of my resistance to getting it wrong.
It felt incredibly uncomfortable to purposely get it wrong and I believe I am not alone. Hence why most of us in business nowadays strive to be perfectionists. Yet, this is an uphill struggle that brings us far too much stress, slowing us down and playing a crucial factor in how we respond to the times we accidentally get it wrong.
It’s inevitable we’re going to get it wrong!
Every day we rush through today’s fast-paced world spinning so many plates. It’s inevitable we’re going to drop a few of those plates or at least one! Thus I believe that in today’s fast-paced society we’re even more likely to make mistakes yet we live in a world where mistakes seem to be frowned upon and/or broadcasted across social media for everyone to laugh about so we’re constantly on edge about making a mistake. For those who do make mistakes, it leads to embarrassment, going into hiding or quickly pointing the finger at someone else.
Why can we not admit we made a mistake?!
If you’re cool with making mistakes then you can stop reading and go treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. If you’re NOT ok with mistakes then please read on.
Mistakes are often seen as failures
If we make a mistake whilst learning something, we fear we’ve failed to grasp the subject. If we roll out a product or service and it flops, we think we’ve failed at understanding our customers. If we overspend and don’t leave enough money for the tax bill we automatically think we’ve failed at running a successful business. I don’t agree with this though. I reckon failure only occurs when we give up.
The moment we admit defeat, that’s when we’ve failed. However, if we stumble, get kicked, punched or fall down and stay there for a bit, we have NOT failed. We’ve just made a mistake.
A mistake is a misguided act or an inaccurate judgement. Failure is when something is no longer functioning.
Our business has not failed if we have made a misguided investment or misjudged our savings. Our projects have not been a waste of time if we take a step in the wrong direction, and if we make a mistake whilst learning something, we are simply still in the process of leaning! Our mentors will not walk away from us if we get an answer wrong…
In my mind, failure is when we give up
I encourage you to stand back from your ‘failures’ and really analyse them.
Has there been an error of judgment? Has there been a step (or several steps) in the wrong direction? If so, you have NOT failed. Correct them immediately and stop walking in that direction. Take a moment to check in and remember what you are trying to do.
You have only failed when you give up, refuse to learn from your mistakes and just keep going in a particular direction because everyone else is, even when you know it’s the wrong direction for you.
The good news is failure can be prevented by, quite simply, not giving a damm what others think. I encourage you to keep experimenting, keep getting back up from a fall, keep laughing & learning when you get it wrong, and above all keep adjusting your direction.
Author of Successful Business Minds, 12 Steps to Improve Your Cashflow and The Magical Mix of Money, Tax and a Happy Life
© HM Finance Coaching Ltd, Helen Monaghan
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