Uh, Oh

I’ve already made several mistakes by the time you’ve started reading this week’s memo. And there is a reasonable chance that I’ll have a failure sometime soon given my propensity to try out new ideas.

Mistakes and failures are inevitable and developing greater comfort and skills in managing failure is critical for success. I’ve just recently completed a corporate workshop for a new client that we called “Raising Phoenix” for its emphasis on helping the company’s business leaders address failures with their teams.

The greatest challenge to handling failures better is overcoming our tendency to look to blame someone or something as the reason why the failure occurred.

Culpability can be appropriate if we’ve been careless or disregarded procedures such as when we’ve opened up an email from an unknown source leading to a virus in our computer.

Other times however, we may make mistakes that are best credited to the complexity of the situation or unanticipated events that may make an error inevitable. Scheduling an “emergency” virtual meeting with a team around the globe will almost certainly run into technology or scheduling problems. Casting blame at that failure is wasted as anyone who’s ever tried that idea out, could have predicted that the odds of the meeting going amiss would be high.

Our first reaction to these kinds of experiences is to focus on the stress reaction of “fight” which almost always leads to “its not my fault but someone else’s.” Shifting our mindset to examine why and not who is another arrow in your resilience quiver.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016


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