Experiences are made up of your wins and losses; the good and bad times; your successes and mistakes. But, what if I told you they can be one and the same? What if your mistakes and successes have more in common than you think? It is time to rethink how we judge performance and spend more time in analyzing mistakes to pull the good out of them. Now, this doesn’t mean not to completely throw away striving for excellence, but what this really means is that you should know mistakes will be made along the way. It is more about accepting them, rather than resisting them. These moments are there to make us better thinkers and to also prevent us from making the same mistakes twice. These are the learning moments.
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Our responsibility in all of this is to train ourselves to stop and recognize them. Just as in moments where we have successes and can take notes on what we did correctly so they are repeated, mistakes offer opportunities to take notes so we know what not to repeat. Instead of shying away from our mistakes and not even wanting to acknowledge them due to fear, what if we as leaders embraced mistakes? What if we not only allowed them, but encouraged them? A trial by error experiment, if you will.
I can still remember a quote that my boss at my first job told me.
No matter what you do wrong, it can be fixed. [Tweet This]
I still have yet to find many situations that cannot be fixed. Of course, be kind and learn how to fix the problem that you created because not only is it the right thing to do, but you learn more this way and gain experience from the process. This simple quote really got me thinking at an early age about how people treat their mess-ups in their work. I mean, why all the fuss about not getting it right the first time? So, it takes a little longer and people learn something from their mistakes along the way. Sounds to me like a great opportunity for the individual to learn the process and a great way for companies to train their employees. It really is a “win-win” situation. I have been in this type of work environment and also an environment that punishes mistakes. In an environment where there is less pressure on you, the stress of messing up on the individual is lifted. This is where freedom is created to work and flow in.
Why is this important?
Freedom in your workplace breeds creativity. [Tweet This]
I may be the first person who has ever told you this, but… YES, it is ok to mess up. Simply put, if you are afraid to mess up, then the wrong culture has been put in place around you. But, it isn’t too late. Whether you work for micromanagers or control freaks, you can be the change in the culture you are currently in.
Here are three ways to create freedom in stepping out on a limb and begin giving permission to mess things up…
1. Realize that you, your coworkers nor your boss are perfect.
The moment that someone actually admits this and stops taking themselves so seriously is the moment that mistakes are overlooked and freedom begins.
Perfection is made through mistakes. [Tweet This]
Imagine with me for a moment a world without the two following influential people…
Can you imagine the NBA without Michael Jordan? I sure can’t. His leadership, high-flying dunks and the state of the sport as we know it would be very different if he would have given up due to his “mistakes”. It sure would have been easy to give up along the way since he lost almost 300 games (that’s more games than many NBA players have court time in), missed over 9000 shots at goal (again more shots than an average NBA player even takes) and 26 times he was given the ball to take the game winning shot and missed. Through this, he learned how to persevere and that is what a lot of people miss; the chance to take mistakes and what some people would call failures and turn them into opportunities.
I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
– Michael Jordan [Tweet This]
Can you imagine a world without Thomas Edison? I love having the invention of the light bulb around and I know you do as well, so I am very appreciative for the refining of the lightbulb that he did. Edison spent a lifetime of taking the work that had already been done on the lightbulb by others before him and still continued to persevere with his own ideas on making the lightbulb work properly. Talk about teamwork! He had a vision for the product and a perseverance that outlasted his failed attempts.
Towards the end of the process he is quoted as saying,
I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work.
-Thomas Edison [Tweet This]
I absolutely love the perspective that Edison had. He didn’t ask for permission to fail, but he took it. What if we began to see things the same way that Edison did?
What if we saw getting up and trying as the true beginning of learning? [Tweet This]
These are two high-profile examples of taking what most people would call mistakes and turning them into achieving greatness. If they went through those experiences and can still go after their goals, what is stopping you from turning your mishaps into teaching tools for yourself and others to learn from? Maybe your excuses are the very things stopping you from daring to dream big and conquering your biggest fears.
Stop the excuses.
Attempt what you never thought you could.
Achieve more than you ever dreamed.
It all starts with taking the first step in the right direction and that is realizing that you will make mistakes along the way.
2. Communicate your plans.
Before you dive head first into this new take on experimenting in the workplace, you need to communicate to others what your plan actually is and what you feel the need to take risks in. This will be your form of organized chaos.
The first step in this process is to fully get others on board with you and the best way to make this happen is to explain your goals upfront to everyone involved so you can begin to sell the idea. This one step helps the micromanagers in your life cope with change. Here, you need to explore the best possible ways to effectively present your ideas and get as many people as possible on your side.
The second step here is listen to your team and hear what they want to achieve through the process. Other people have different perspectives and that alone will help you become more in tune with the true needs of the entire team. Sometimes the easiest way of getting everyone on board with an idea is to take the time to listen to their ideas. Everyone wants to be heard and to know their ideas are appreciated. Realize that every person on your team matters.
After each idea on goals are out on the table, the third and final step in communication with your team is to actually construct the plan. These points of action are meant as an outline, not a strict plan. I am sure you are wondering why you should create a plan if you aren’t going to necessarily stick to it. This is because everyone needs boundaries. Everyone needs a playground; a fence to stay in while being able to play inside those boundaries.
Once guidelines are created and communication is established, then it is time to think outside of the box while staying inside the predetermined boundaries.
3. Determine the best and worst case scenarios.
The next step in the equation is showing those around you that better results can be achieved if creativity begins to take place in the work environment on a regular basis.
Here are just a few ways to begin encouraging creativity:
- Reward it constantly. Praise your team in front of others. Put creative people in lead positions whenever possible. Show others through this that you want and need creativity to be repeated.
- Communicate to your team what your creative expectations are.
- Encourage your team to realize that they are just one creative move from achieving greatness. New ideas are groundbreaking and people buy-in to new products. Give customers/clients what they want with doing the necessary, creative steps behind-the-scenes.
Now, make a list of the best possible outcomes versus the worst. In most cases, the positive results outweigh the negative ones. This helps everyone understand that creativity isn’t the only factor here, but risk is a big part of the equation as well.
Creativity + Risk = Huge Results [Tweet This]
Use these points to learn from your mistakes and coach others on what you concluded from them. Take notes from your experiences. Not only learn from your mistakes, but also take the time to learn from your achievements. I am not talking about making chaos a daily activity, but I am talking about an organized discussion of the possibilities of where taking the above equation could lead to. Creativity and taking risks are precursors to shifting momentum in your favor. Learn how to effectively stand out in the midst of the noise. Today, you can stop hiding behind the fear of making mistakes and begin to embrace the wisdom gained through choosing creativity, even if there are a few bumps in the road.
Remember, Imperfection encourages better results. [Tweet This]