Man in the mirror

The unfortunate thing about being human is that we make mistakes. We are prone to errors, failures, and unmet expectations.

In the moment it is easy to quickly search for the person or thing that caused the mistake. Save yourself some time and look at the person in the mirror. Most times you are the person responsible for the majority of your mistake.

Sure, there are times when factors outside your control caused the mistake to happen. If you are honest with yourself you will be able to acknowledge that there is probably something you could have done to help prevent the mistake.

A few times in my career (it took me a few times to learn this), I had been caught off guard in a meeting. I was embarrassed and then angry for being called out. I would wonder why the person leading the meeting didn’t let me know ahead of time that I was going to be put on the spot. Sure, the leader could have let me know beforehand, but I am the one who should have done something different. I could have:

  • Known the agenda before the meeting
  • Reviewed the agenda beforehand to determine how I should be prepared
  • Followed up with the leader to confirm that I have the information needed for the meeting

My car broke down when I was in college. This failure pointed to proceeding failures that caused my car to break down. To prevent my car breaking down I could have:

  • Made sure I did preventative maintenance (like change the oil)
  • Given more attention to noises from my car

When I am in an argument with a family member or friend, I could:

  • Deflate the issue by not getting angry and listening more
  • Have spent more time with them and nurtured the relationship more
  • Tried to understand the other person’s point of view, “seek first to understand, then to be understood” as Stephen Covey says

When making mistakes, find out what is missing and fill the gap. In most cases there is something you could do to prevent the situation. Once in the situation it is up to you to learn from it and fix it. Now one else is going to fix it for you.

What lessons have you learned from your mistakes?
What do you differently now because of the lessons you have learned?

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