July 17, 2019 - Issue 19-29

Good Afternoon  ,

Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of managers at La Estancia de Cafayate (LEC). LEC is the beautiful community where I live in Argentina. My mandate was to offer some pearls of teamwork wisdom.

Some people seem to think being right is very important and being wrong is a sin. I decided to take that concept head-on with the following comments. As you read my comments keep in mind this was for a group of Argentinian managers.  Of course I presented it in my less-than-perfect Spanish.

Mistakes (Not Failures)

Thomas Edison was an inventor in the United States. His most famous invention was the electric light bulb.

He worked nearly 2 years to find a practical way to produce light from electrical energy. It's reported that he found 10,000 ways that didn't work. Finally he and his team produced the first practical light bulb in 1879.

So he made 10,000 mistakes before he succeeded! Were all those mistakes failures?

Absolutely not!

Each of those mistakes taught him something. He could not have succeeded without making them, and learning from them.

My point in relating this story is, making a mistake is not a sin, so long as you learn from it. Making the same mistake twice means you didn't learn from the first one - that's a sin!

If you're doing things, you will make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes, and improve your methods.

As leaders, remember this. Your team members will make mistakes. Part of your responsibility as a leader is to help them learn from their mistakes. 

Coach them on how to do the job better next time. That's much more effective than just criticizing them.

Simply criticizing them without helping them improve is the definition of "negative criticism". Brian Tracy, a coach I worked with years ago, said "Negative criticism of a person has about the same effect as smashing a malfunctioning machine with a hammer". It's unlikely to improve results!

We want always better results. Right?

So...learn from your mistakes.
...Help your team members learn from their mistakes.
Mistakes are steps toward success. They're not failures, unless you make the same one twice! 

I'm sure I speak for the whole owner community in saying "Thank you" to all the employees of LEC for the clubhouse, spa, landscape, golf course and all the services. You make this the beautiful place it is. 

For my readers here, I didn't really need to include the last paragraph. I think it's important, though, for the overall flavor of the presentation. Would you like to use any of this for a team you're responsible for (you're welcome to do that)? If you do, be sure to thank them for whatever they do. 

Not planning to use this material? Thank them anyway - it can only improve things!
John Stevens

Note: Archived issues of The Unity Community are available here.

Do you make mistakes? If you're doing things, I'm sure you do.
Do your employees make mistakes? If they're doing things (and I'm quite sure you see to it that they are), they no doubt make mistakes. How do you handle that?
Send me your thoughts and impressions about this article. Care to discuss the concept of learning from mistakes?

What's am I doing right with  The Unity Community?
What mistakes have I made  with  The Unity Community?
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About John

Throughout a career spanning over 45 years my management style has been one of building teams to bring several competent people together to focus on a common objective. I noted early in my career that, in most organizations, there is an enormous amount of time, energy, and effort wasted by people working at cross purposes.

As I transition to life in the Argentine outback, my focus shifts from coaching to helping other business coaches and advisers get their message out to their prospective clients. With my first-hand knowledge of the benefits of effective business coaching, I am uniquely qualified to help business advisers of all stripes convey their message.

Contact Info
John B. Stevens, Freelance Copywriter

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