|Many of us have painful, embarrassing memories of times when we were wrong.
Maybe it was:
- In school, where the Socratic method was alive and well! You were asked a question, gave a good guess, and then were told – publicly – how wrong you were in your thinking.
- At work, when you spent hours pouring over a proposal only to discover – after you submitted it – that you spelled your prospective client’s name wrong.
- When you arrived for an important meeting 45 minutes late because you made an error in your scheduling.
- At home, when you were careless with your words during a discussion with your partner and best friend. You said some things you shouldn’t have and you can’t take them back.
Chances are that you’ve been wrong not just once or twice. Throughout your life, you’ve been wrong countless times.
Being wrong is okay. In fact, if we all were to be honest with ourselves, we’ve made mistakes quite a bit. Our goal in life shouldn’t be to avoid making mistakes and strive for perfection. Our goal in life should be to focus on how we respond to those situations in which we either miss the mark or experience complete failure. These are the moments when we need to rise to the occasion and demonstrate accountability the best way we know how: By being absolutely, 100% responsible for our actions (or inactions).
One of my favorite quotes is from the Maya Angelou:
“When I know better, I do better.”
When we’re wrong, rather than berate ourselves, we need to learn from our experiences. Learning is where real growth happens.
Here are some ideas on how to grow from those less-than-best moments:
- Acknowledge your role in the situation – don’t blame someone else or the circumstances – “I apologize for being late. I made an error in my schedule.”
- Excuses only satisfy the person who delivers them. Know that your excuses exasperate the situation, so don’t offer them. “I said (x) and I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”
- Stop and think about the error and what you could have done differently. Reflection creates time for lessons learned going forward.
- Don’t project your disappointment onto other people. Just because you’re mad/embarrassed/frustrated doesn’t give you a right to take it out on other people. Certainly, if the mistake happened because of a collective effort, there’s room for everyone to grow. There’s no need to chastise others when, in reality, we’re all attempting to learn from an experience.
Your accountability level conveys your leadership ability. The sooner you respond as a leader, the quicker you learn and grow from the situation.
Keep Leading from the Front!