See mistakes for what they really are;
don't let them ruin your progress

Mistakes are a necessary part of life.

I wish I'd known that 40 years ago. Back then, when my self-confidence was low, I thought I had to be perfect all the time. I thought any errors would make people think I was stupid.

Consequently, I was nervous and tense, worried that I was going to mess up. I'm sure that my anxiety made me even more prone to slip-ups because I was focusing on being error-free, instead of the job at hand.

If I had only looked around me, I would have discovered an important truth: Everyone makes mistakes, including the boss.

mistakes

Mistakes are not the end of the world

As singles, we don't always have someone to give us the support we need. Compound that with having too much time alone to replay all our blunders, and you get a devastating combination.

From the time we get home from work until the time we fall asleep, we beat ourselves up over things best left forgotten.

When I was in my twenties and even thirties, I was worried about the image I presented to others in the workplace. When I made an error, I thought it showed I was incompetent. I would go over it in my mind for days, sometimes even weeks, thinking about what I should have done or could have done differently.

But again, that didn't do any good because I couldn't go back in time. It only served to distract me from what I was doing at the moment.

Jack's truths for thriving

Mistakes are teachers.
Don't let them turn into jailers or torturers.


True, we all want to learn from our fumbles, and that's the true benefit of them, but we can't let them intimidate us so much that they paralyze us into fear of making a decision or fear of taking action.

Of course, this doesn't just apply in the workplace. It's true in our social life as well. The breakup of a promising relationship can cause a single person to go into an emotional cocoon, thinking, "I'm never going to let that happen to me again."

Well, finding the right person can sometimes be a matter of trial and error, although we should not go into marriage thinking that if it doesn't work out, that's just part of the learning process. The trial and error phase is for before marriage.

Foul ups happen, they'll happen in the future, and none of us can get through this life without piling up at least a few. We all look back on some incidents with regret, but we don't want to live there.

Cutting down on mistakes

We all want to cut out errors entirely, whether in our personal or business life. For most of us, these missteps are serious but not fatal.

Of course if you work in the finance, the medical profession, law enforcement, or the military, you want to have zero errors. That's why it's so crucial to concentrate on the job at hand. We may not be able to go back and fix past errors, but we can make sure they aren't repeated today.

As you've probably learned, customers have very little tolerance when an error affects them. Most of them don't live by the Golden Rule.

Maybe you've been on the receiving end of a chewing out by a customer, and it's never pleasant. You usually don't forget those verbal thrashings. That's probably a good thing, however; because they make us more careful so the same kind of foul up doesn't happen again.

There's no question: Mistakes can be painful. But perfectionism can be paralyzing and can lead to all sorts of other problems.

Here are a few tips for reducing such slips:

  • Work slowly and methodically, if possible.

  • Make sure you follow instructions accurately.

  • Use checklists when time allows.

  • Double-check your work before turning it in.

  • Ask a fellow worker to review your work for errors, if possible.

  • Try to think ahead to the consequences of decisions.

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