Among our core values at Stathakis is Learn Everyday. Mistakes, while they can be embarrassing, offer some of our best chances to learn and grow. But we must approach them the right way. One of the things we encounter with our own human nature is a natural resistance to admitting our mistakes. Why? Maybe it is the fact that as humans, we are hard wired to seek things that feel good and avoid things that feel bad. The feeling of being wrong or having someone upset with you because you made a mistake or handled something the wrong way feels bad.
Making a mistake can stir up feelings of shame, perhaps shame that you know you could have done better and didn’t. You might feel shame that you have faults and weaknesses that are visible to others. Mistakes can make you feel anger toward yourself for taking a short cut or anger at someone else for calling you out on it. Mistakes can make you feel hopeless like maybe you’ll never get it right or figure out what someone expects of you.
All of us at one time or another have wanted to shift blame to someone else. We say to ourselves, “if only he would have done that or she wouldn’t have done this, I wouldn’t have made the mistake.” It feels a lot better when we can convince ourselves it was someone else’s fault. Again, this is human nature and we shouldn’t spend too much time beating ourselves up for things we are naturally inclined to do. But part of what makes us humans so wonderful, so unique among animals is that we can see our nature and add to it knowledge and maturity to help us continue to develop throughout our lives.
The next time you make a mistake, (and one of the joys of being human is that you can be pretty sure there will be a next time), think about it before you react. Think about what you are feeling and what those feelings are trying to tell you. Maybe the shame is telling you that you are capable of doing better. Maybe the solution doesn’t lie in anger or blame but accountability. Accountability is easily summed up in one sentence:
“I made a mistake and I am going to try to do better.”
We are all human--your coworkers, your managers, our customers. There isn’t one person among us who doesn’t understand that we are going to trip and fall over our feet over and over again, it is just the nature of the game. Learning to take responsibility for our errors and hear the constructive criticism that might follow can go a long way in getting understanding, empathy and another chance to do better.