Life happens. Despite the best laid plans, hours of preparation, and having the best there is on the case, life always manages to throw curve balls our way. If adequate preparation has been done, and high quality back up plans are in place, we are often able to overcome the smaller issues. However, there are those days when things do not go correctly, and it seems that everything you touch goes from bad to worse. These are the moments in which our character is truly revealed.
Unfortunately, as soon as some people experience a couple of challenging situations, they psychologically convince themselves that they cannot turn things around, and they start flying the white flag. There are others who continue striving to find a solution while blaming everyone else for the problem, and cursing about how it’s always them that has all the bad luck. Then there are those special people who despite the hurdles they face, they own the task at hand and do what is needed to get to where they need to be.
Today, we are going to look at some ways in which businesses rely on their employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to overcome issues that stand in their way. No matter what industry you are involved in, mistakes are inevitable, so you might as well embrace them and turn them into something positive!
Apologize – Show that you care about what happened and let those involved know that you are sorry for what happened.
Communication – When things aren’t going well, it’s definitely time to share the problem, rather than burying your head in the sand. There is often the feeling of failure and the fear that you are going to be dressed down for the way that you handled things, but if you are up front and honest it often diffuses the situation and makes others aware that you are in need of support. It is also a great way to develop trust in a relationship as you are not trying to hide things. A recent example of this was when a service provider was due to call me but completely forgot. Instead of creating some bogus story he immediately apologized, took responsibility, and said that he had just forgotten. You might not think that this is a great way to grow your business, but the honesty and this genuine approach sold me on what a relationship would look like with this company.
Owning it – We have all been there. As a kid you were sat in a classroom and the class clown decides that now is a good time to play a prank. The teacher is upset and demands that the perpetrator make themselves known. They keep quiet and the entire class is punished for one person’s misbehavior. Immaturity frequently plays a part in the behavior of people in these situations, but the culprit is almost guaranteed to be found out. Frequently it’s due to one of their peers sharing the information with the teacher as they are not prepared to suffer the consequences of someone else’s poor decision. When this information surfaces, the child in question is now likely to be reprimanded in a greater way than before for the time they wasted. Admit that you made the mistake before someone comes to you knowing that you are responsible.
Approach – Most people see making mistakes as a big negative that should be avoided at all costs. However, this frequently isn’t the case, as most mistakes are just small steps along a bigger journey and in the end they are essentially irrelevant. Everest is the world’s highest peak and many people over time have attempted to make it to the summit. In total, 29,029 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. More than 290 people have lost their life while attempting to scale Everest. There was obviously the challenge involved in the climb, the reward of becoming one of the few to make it to the summit, the journey and obstacles along the way, the dedication and determination involved in preparing for the climb, and the opportunity to prove people wrong who doubted your abilities. These 290+ people all had their reasons, and going into the adventure knew that there was a huge amount of risk involved. However, they went for it in search of the great reward. Even though Everest took their life, I believe many of these courageous adventurers wouldn’t view this as a mistake as they died doing something that they were truly passionate about.
Progress – If you are afraid of making mistakes, then the chances are you won’t get out of your comfort zone, and your life and/ or career will become stagnant. Most of the most famous and successful people of all time are those who took risks, made huge mistakes, but took the knowledge gained from them to catapult them to success.
Keep things in perspective – It can be difficult to maintain a sense of perspective when you’re upset with yourself, but try to make sure your emotional response is proportional to the mistake that you made. Making an error at work typically is not a life-or-death situation, unless you are a surgeon, a Nascar driver, or a pilot, and most mistakes can be resolved quickly. So you forgot to include an attachment, you accidentally included someone on an email that shouldn’t have been there , you were late for a presentation, or included a typo in an important report. You’re still alive. No one was mortally wounded. On the freeway of life, this is a parking ticket, not a multiple car pile-up.
Create a safety net/ build up credit – The best way to earn people’s trust and admiration is to consistently deliver great work and go above and beyond what is expected. Do this, and occasional bouts of forgetfulness or slip-ups here and there are likely to be quickly forgiven and forgotten.
Learn – one of the most important pieces involved in this whole process. Reflect on what you did, or did not do, and look for ways in which you can prevent, or significantly reduce the chance of this happening again in the future. Look at lessons learned, alternative strategies, and how you can turn something negative into something extremely positive.
The best way to earn people’s trust and admiration is to consistently deliver great work. Period. Do that, and occasional bouts of forgetfulness or slip-ups here and there are likely to be quickly forgiven—and forgotten.
Make up for it – We can all say that we are sorry and regret making the mistake, but the key way to bounce back is to make up for it with your actions. Were you the one who forgot to add a crucial document that lead to your company losing a business opportunity? Were you responsible for failing to complete your part of a group project on time? Was it your poor follow up and lack of communication that lost your company a client? In this day and age, these things happen all the time. They are part and parcel of today’s world, and unfortunately no one is immune to them. If you are the one that drops the ball, this is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship by going above and beyond to wow the other people involved. If you are involved in losing
If you ask most people to think back in their life about mistakes that they made, most people will give you an answer about something that they didn’t do, rather than an issue that arose from something that they did do. This fear and worry is something that controls so many people’s emotions and unfortunately can prevent them from truly making the most of the opportunities that are available to them.
The next time you have worries about making a mistake, step back and think about what the worst thing that could happen is. Often it’s nothing like as bad as you initially thought! Go for it, take that chance, try that new idea at work, share that business idea with your colleagues and as the famous Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It”. If it does turn out to be a mistake with some negative aspects, follow the ideas above and turn it into something positive. Embrace risk and mistakes and see them as opportunities that will help you to progress.
Bonus tip: When you next find yourself in a job interview and are asked about examples of great things that you have done. It definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to discuss something negative that you managed to turn around with your diligence and problem solving capabilities.
Until next time Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.