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27 Oct 2013

When a Mistake is Not a Mistake, it is THE Biggest Mistake

It's inevitable that we make mistakes at work and in life. Some are small, like calling the wrong number, while others are big, like allowing fraud to happen or even committing fraud.

Of course no one in this world intentionally want to make mistakes, and everyone dislike mistakes. This is because mistakes create confusion and doubts and leave us feeling inadequate and embarrassed.

Because of this, we tend to treat mistakes more as enemies than teachers.  We want to annihilate mistakes at all costs.  Since mistakes already made cannot be undone, we often end up covering mistakes, and worst still, justifying mistakes.

There was this guy that I know from my training assignments.  He was a Vice President of a large MNC, and he is very skilled at avoiding responsibility and placing blame. For example, if his department is spending over the budget, he would 'calmly' recall that he had make an adjustment to his budget 6 months ago and was 'surprised' that the accounts department did not adjust his budget!  When someone questioned his travel and entertainment expenses were high, he would 'patiently' remind people that each expense was targeted to close a deal. But when people saw that his sales were low, he would talk about the realities of 'sales cycles' and how the 'market' is affecting everyone, not just his performance.  In short, he is never wrong and it is always other peoples' mistakes or the 'harsh reality of life' that are the cause.

We all know that if organizations treat mistakes as the enemy, there can be no learning from it. Of course the mistake would be repeated in future, and its magnitude would be amplified.  Just look at the frequent 'restatement' of profits in listed companies accounts and you'll know what I'm talking about.

What's the solution?  To treat the enemy as a friend. When you treat someone as a friend, you'll listen to him, and let him tell you what's wrong so that you can improve in the future.  So my friend, next time when you make a mistake, treat the mistake as a new friend that you've just added on facebook, and really listen to him.  You'll realize that you will be able to learn from it.  In no time, you'll be enjoying the rewards of no repetition of mistakes.  And that to me, my friend, is the biggest reward for treating the mistake as a friend, not an enemy.

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer Coach of Asia Trainers, details are at here.

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