Sometimes we have to be reminded of our own core beliefs, and today was one of those days. My friend and co-worker had to remind me that sometimes mistakes are simply opportunities for training, and she told me a story about a new worker in another field making a mistake that had cost his company over $10K. When this unfortunate newbie confronted his boss about it he was prepared to be fired. Instead, his boss remarked that there was no way he was going to fire this person now, seeing how he had just spent over $10K for training!

And that’s what mistakes are – training opportunities. But when we’re in the thick of it, while we’re mired in the recovery efforts and damage control, we often forget that mistakes are learning opportunities. Yes, it’s clichéd, but the only alternative is to rant and scream and raise our blood pressure and, in the end, we really don’t accomplish anything other than to draw more attention to our mistake and create an environment where everyone is afraid to try, afraid to offer new ideas or solutions. And if we create that kind of environment then we’ll end up losing a lot more than $10K. So, to my co-worker, I offer a thank you – sometimes being close to mistakes makes us forget the things we’ve been preaching for so very long.

4 thoughts on “Mistakes

  1. Alan

    I believe the actual event took place at IBM and involved a lot more money, but can’t immediately come up with the specifics. As I remember it, the person who caused the loss offered his resignation, and one of the Watsons said, “we’ve just paid $xx for your education, we’re not letting you go anywhere.” Apocryphal or not, it’s a lesson for us all.

  2. Catherine

    Thanks for sharing. The CEO of my company likes to talk about all the mistakes he’s made over the years, and what he’s learned from each of them. Innovation never happens unless you’re willing to try (and not be afraid to fail).

  3. Tracy

    Great story and true. But how many mistakes does one make until you say why don’t they get it? Training is one thing but plain ol’ stupidity is another, right?

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