Recently, I was on the phone with a client. We had started a ghostwriting project with them, and the first draft just didn’t turn out the way either of us hoped. Capturing someone’s story in the right way, with the right tone and “voice,” is not an exact science. Sometimes the writer nails it, but not always.
So we both agreed to start over. Things like this happen. We all face circumstances that knock us back, throw us for a loop. When that happens, what do you do?
You can choose to make excuses, focusing on who is to blame. Or you can choose to focus on the quickest way to get back on track — like when your GPS tells you that you just missed the exit. It immediately reroutes you to the fastest way to get back on course. You can choose to lament over the consequences of the error. How much time you lost or added expense you incurred.
Let me suggest a fourth perspective – how about focusing on what you learned from the mistake and how you can shore up your systems, change your process, or build in added safeguards to ensure that this type of mistake doesn’t happen again. This is how we get better. The wise leader learns from their mistakes. Many publishing agreements are 10-15 pages long. Why? Because every time the publisher gets burned, they add another clause to their contracts to ensure that situation can’t happen again.
My point is, the way we grow both personally and corporately is often through our mistakes. Never let a good screw-up go to waste! Learn from it. Get better because of it.
If you’ve ever taken the D-I-S-C personality test, you know the “D” represents the dominant type of personality, the leader willing to take risks, to break the status quo, to push the boundaries to move ahead. They are also quick to look for ways to make a system or a circumstance better when something goes wrong. This focus on learning from our mistakes is what helps us grow and get better.
Of course, it’s always good to surround these “D-leaders” with others who can have empathy for those impacted by the error, and those who can analyze the situation best, those who can pick up the broken pieces, whether they are literal pieces or emotional pieces, and those who can help us laugh through the pain.
Since we can’t avoid making mistakes or bumping into circumstances that throw us off course, let’s make a point to ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this?” How can we grow from this, and how can I get better and be better.
May every step you take this week move you forward and upward!