Mistakes are the key to improvement

Is it me or do we now live in a world that seems to forever be putting pressure on the faultless, wanting to live a perfect existence. Is that good for anyone? Well, we don’t think so.

Since we started Clearhead, one thing we have always said is you can make mistakes. Go out of your way to make mistakes because the quicker you make them, the quicker you learn. We seem to have become allergic to making mistakes as a society. When someone does make a mistake, (think about politicians as a prime example) then they are hounded and hounded until they have to resign.

What then happens, is that decisions are based on your comfort-zone and even though there is a place for it, being in your comfort-zone never brings innovation or creativity.

So we are starting a campaign to actively make mistakes and be OK with that. We want the next generation to be fearless, to be adventurers, to step into the unknown and see what’s there. At the end of the day, what is the worst that can happen?

However a word of warning, you can’t keep on making the same mistakes. There is a big difference between making a mistake, maybe making the same mistake again and doing it 3, 4 or 5 times.

Let me explain the difference very quickly. Mistakes happen to everyone as they learn or push forwards. The second time you make it then maybe you didn’t quite get it the first time. If you continue to make it, it is because you aren’t either asking the right question, or your ego is getting in the way of listening.

I’ve recently been reading a book, ‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday and in that it states that if people are consistently making mistakes it is because you need to keep your ego in check. He says, “you’re not nearly as good or important as you think you are. You have an attitude that needs to be readjusted. Most of what you think you know or most of what you learned in books or in school is out of date or wrong.”

If you’re leading others, support them with guardrails. We all work in businesses where mistakes can have big or small consequences. So be brave, let your team be braver still. Give them the freedom in the areas where the implications won’t be significant. You never know, you might just get where you want to go, quicker.

So next time you see a safe, seemingly faultless person, just tell them it is OK to make mistakes and maybe the world will learn a whole load faster.

By Gavin O’Brien