Mistakes Are Our Best Teacher

We have all been there. The moment of regret after we said something we didn’t mean. The promise made, but unfulfilled. Good intentions with unexpected consequences. The knee-jerk reaction to a frustrating situation. The quick decision that became a costly one.

In that moment, we might just want to bury our head in the sand, ignore it, minimize it or get past it as quick as we can. If we make any of those choices it is an opportunity missed!

Our mistakes are the seeds of our greatest potential. If we nurture them right – they can blossom into great character, great accomplishments, and great relationships. We learn how to walk from falling down. We learn not to lie after experiencing the consequences of a lie. We build relationships by trying, making mistakes and launching into our next experiment. After all, life is one big experiment. We get to learn by trial and error – from our mistakes or other’s mistakes.

Recently a leader put this into practice at work. She engaged her team in celebrating mistakes asking each one to reflect on these three questions.

1. Think of a recent mistake. Write down a few key words that describe what happened.

2. What did you learn about yourself in the situation?

3. What is one thing that you will do differently going forward?

She asked each team member to share their mistake and their learnings in small groups. She even asked a brave few to share their mistake with the large group. What surprised her most was the brave souls willing to admit mistakes were able to create an experience where the entire team learned from each other. Celebrating mistakes can shift an organization’s culture — to keep fueling the momentum she will begin integrating this “celebration”into their annual goal setting and planning activities.

Mistakes as teachers can fuel innovation in the workplace. Let them teach.

I would love to chat with you about managing mistakes and other people problems on your team. Contact me or check our more information about our Accelerated Coaching to solve the people problems that drain your energy.


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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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