The Difference Between Failures and Mistakes
To put it simply: A mistake is an action while a failure is a result of an action. Mistakes are errors that can be corrected, but only if knowledge is truly mined from failure.
One of the biggest mistakes I see clients make is never trying. When clients say to me, “I’m just not sure of the outcome,” I immediately see that fear is taking control of their mindset. They are thinking: I could lose. They need to think: I could win.
These clients don’t need to be talked through their fear, but rather taught how to talk themselves through it. As a culture, we are obsessed with outcome. However, in order to grow as a leader, we should instead focus on process.
MISTAKES AS A BADGE OF HONOR
It is human nature to be embarrassed by our mistakes and want to minimize their exposure. Right after making a mistake is when most of us have felt — myself included — like a “do-over” button would be the greatest modern invention. However, by telling the truth and being transparent, we allow others to truly see who we are. This helps us shed feelings of embarrassment and embrace opportunities to grow.
We should embrace mistakes as part of the leadership process. This is not to say you should ignore outcome completely. If negative outcomes occur again and again and establish a pattern, it could indicate a hitch in your method that you aren’t correcting.
A mistake is a signal both that you’ve attempted something new and that you’ve made an error along the way. You have channeled your inner Thomas Edison and found yet another way not to make a light bulb. Congratulations! Now, alter your process and try again.
FAILURE AS A LABEL
One of the most harmful actions a person can perform is to label themselves as a failure — even on a subconscious level — because of a mistake. Failure is tricky business because it is often dangerously regarded as an integral marker of a person’s personality in the same way a person could be called any number of attributes, such as flighty, lazy, generous, kind, or optimistic.
If you stop and really think how often — and quickly — we describe ourselves as “good” or “bad” at a given task and assign labels to that failure (or success), it is astonishing. As much as we are a society focused on outcome, we equally focus on measuring said outcomes into quantifiable data.
You are an advanced learner. You register in the 98th percentile. You are labeled “behind” because you need a bit of extra help in a certain area.
Most labels are, in fact, gained through comparing ourselves to others. This comparison can lead to many of us to never developing our skills over time, or being too afraid to try because these labels get in our heads.
This is related to what I call the “Scale of Life.” Every great act you perform as a leader is measured by a grain of sand on one side of the scale. On the other side of the scale are grains of sand representing mistakes. The moment you allow fear to take over action, a cement block is placed on this side of the scale. This cement block represents fear and it will win every time.
You must believe that you are capable of succeeding. Are you giving yourself a chance at greatness?
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.