In 2018 I met Samantha from In Collaboration at a local networking meeting, where she spoke about the fear of failure and how, as humans, we seem conditioned to feel ashamed when we make mistakes. On speaking to her further I realised that her message was something I could easily get behind and I wanted to help her spread the word about how, in actual fact, mistakes can be a good thing.
Business, as in life, is a constant journey of discovery and we learn from pretty much everything we do, including the mistakes that we make. For example, a child will often learn to avoid something the first time it causes them pain or discomfort, and whilst we can tell them not to run on concrete all we like, it is only when they fall and scrape their knees that they realise WHY we advised against it. Is the message that they should never run? No, the message is that they should simply be more selective on the surfaces that they run on, especially if they are a bit clumsy!
Getting things wrong, making mistakes and sometimes failing completely are a part of life and if we spend our lives trying to avoid it we also reduce the opportunities for growth. Did you know that Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, “failed” 1000 times before he developed a successful prototype but when asked by a reporter how it felt to “fail” 1000 times, he simply replied “the lightbulb was an invention of 1000 steps”. What a fantastic way of looking at things. If we give up the first, second or even third time we fail then we will never succeed, but if we learn from the things that didn’t work in previous attempts things can only get better, even if it does take us 1000 attempts!
It’s also important to remember that our mistakes and failures don’t define us. As social beings, from time to time when things go wrong, it will have a negative effect on others. If you work alongside other people, if you are a parent, if you are in a relationship or have friends or family – basically if you are a human being, you are at risk of making mistakes that may cause other people some form of inconvenience. However, mistakes don’t make you bad at your job, a poor parent or a rubbish friend or partner, they make you human and providing you learn from them they will make you better at all of those things. It’s also worth remembering that the people you have inconvenienced with your mistake will probably be quite relieved that they aren’t the only person that messes up every so often. Many of us give ourselves a real hard time when things don’t go to plan, forgetting that we aren’t the only ones that forget things, miss certain details or don’t get things right the first time we try.
With this in mind, Samantha and I wanted to create a community where people could share their mistakes and get support or advice without the fear of judgement and from this The Oops Group was created! Most of the community hang out on Facebook where we have daily discussions about how to embrace the mistakes in life but we also arrange monthly meetings for those who wish to meet like minded people and offer their support and get support in return. If you would like to join The Oops Group you can do so by clicking on this link and we would love to welcome you into our friendly bunch.
I’d like to end this blog with a little pearl of wisdom from one of my own colleagues who said “if you feel bad when you make mistakes, it shows how much you care. If you didn’t care it wouldn’t feel so bad” and this simple statement made me realise that as long as we care we can learn – just as Edison did. So embrace your mistakes, don’t feel ashamed when they happen because providing you care enough you will learn and grow from them.