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Moving Beyond Mistakes
Volume II, Issue 36
I haven't watched the Oscars for years but last evening I took a big step and reconnected due to the excellence in the movies and actors up for the gold. I was not disappointed at the winners, although I wanted more for Fences and Hidden Figures. In the case of Fences, I have cherished letters that I received from August Wilson, the playwright for Fences. As to Hidden Figures, I majored in mathematics in undergraduate school and understand some of the challenges that women of any color had to overcome in obtaining significant jobs in their field during the late 1960s and early 1970s. What a wonderful moment for Dr. Johnson, the extraordinary African American mathematician, to grace the stage of the Oscars !
As to the Picture of the Year receiving initially a mistaken nod, it's time to move on and not wallow in the error! All of us have experienced mistakes for which we must be held accountable or are the recipient of a mistake that another has made. I don't want to understate the adverse impact of certain mistakes such as medical error or fatal accidents because of unfavorable acts or behaviors, but there are some such as the Oscar Glitch that don't require replaying repeatedly.
In reflecting on the Oscar matter, it provided an opportunity to take a look at mistakes made on my leadership journey and pathway to success. Some of the mistakes are negligible but at the time they occur they appear huge. For example, when you show up at a Black Tie Event in a casual dress if female or a sport coat if a male because you failed to pay attention to detail of the event invitation. Another example that could be bumped up a notch in terms of impact is when you use incorrect or outdated information to make a case to support a policy or budget change or adjustment. Yet another may be showing up late for an important meeting with your board of directors/trustees for your annual evaluation because you failed to leave promptly a prior meeting.
No matter what the level or degree of the mistake, I strive to act quickly in acknowledging, owning and correcting the mistake. Allowing too much time for the mistake to continue, especially when you know that one exists, complicates unnecessarily a response. Below are a few other actions that I have taken to beyond the mistake:
1. Apologize to those impacted - personal calls or in-person meetings work. Emails are not as effective.
2. Avoid beating up yourself for extended periods and using the mistake as an excuse for failing to address another matter. No doubt, mistakes can be awkward and embarrassing. Place the mistake in a lessons learned portfolio.
3. Share the mistake with another that you trust such as a coach or mentor to help problem solve it if you are not able to do so alone. I usually apply a SWOT analysis because it can place the mistake in perspective within a larger framework that also includes your strengths.
4. Keep in mind that mistakes are part of learning and they happen because of what you have failed to do or someone else has failed to do that migrates to you. I am always reminded of this quote that "the only people who never make mistakes are those who never try anything."
Connect with Marilyn at 804.782.1938 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are having challenges in developing a solution to a mistake that you can't overcome.