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If you don’t learn from your mistakes you’re doomed to repeat them

Last time we talked about how each business leader sets out to do something different.

Everyone has their own take on how things should be.

Going out on a limb means trying new things, which can sometimes be a bit risky - but fortune favours the brave.

And having the right approach to failure when you are taking risks... means that even when you get it wrong - you win!

Let me explain.


Embracing failure

None of us are perfect - however much we would like to be!

I am of the belief that we shouldn't be afraid of making mistakes.

What is more important is that we get good at learning from mistakes - so we don't repeat them.

By definition, it is when we make mistakes that we can make the most improvement.

Whilst this is not revelatory in and of itself, there's a bit more to it I would like to share.


Part 1: getting to the hidden lesson

A lot of the time self-criticism or hurt feelings can get in the way of important teachable moments.

It can be easy to blame externalities. Things that are out of our control.

But whether true or not, it is a defence mechanism. It helps up ignore things we could have done better - as a way of saving face.

Even if our part was only 5% of the overall error - would you not want to improve?

It’s when emotions are running high that:
(1) we have the most to learn, and:
(2) we are most likely to not judge ourselves rationally
It's those who park the bruised ego and learn painful lessons that seem to succeed despite everything.

Remember, nothing interesting happens in your comfort zone.


Part 2: scale it up

The value of this approach to improvement at the individual level is profound.

But it can be much more than that.

It is something that you can scale within your organisation.

By encouraging your team members to take the same approach - you achieve a compound effect.

You do this through regular training.

This should explicitly communicate that initial mistakes are accepted, but when those mistakes are made they are mined for their insight.

What's more, these insights can also be shared with the whole team to achieve a wider benefit.

This can take the form of roundtables with the team or inclusion in training materials.

Seeking constructive discomfort can be truly beneficial for your team. Don't let a good mistake go to waste!


Part 3: you don't even have to make the mistakes

Lastly, you don't even have to be the one making mistakes to implement this approach.

If you have formalised a "teachable moment" into your weekly meetings and don't have anything to pull from...

You can utilize mistakes that other people have made as reference points.

Whilst our own mistakes are more valuable in terms of making the learnings we derive from them "stick"... (The pain aversion of our own experience plays its part there.)

Drawing from analogous experiences is resourceful too. Whether that is something in the trade news, a story from experience or another second-hand source.

With your mind focused on continual improvement, even if you're in unchartered territory, you will find your way.

Wrapping up

What do you think about this? What are the mistakes you have made that have taught you the most?
I hope you found this interesting - it is certainly something which I think about a lot.

As an aside - Happy International Women's Day, everyone. (Well, for Tuesday).

Each year I am encouraged by how much progress is being made.

It is the kind of thing that inspires great hope for the future, despite the challenging times we are living in.

Hope you all have a fantastic week and do get in touch if you need anything.



Elizabeth Ward, Principal of Virtuoso Legal

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