I have this great set of questions that we should be asking ourselves at the end of each day:
- What mistakes did I make today?
- What are the lessons?
- What did I learn?
- How did I grow?
- How am I going to do things differently tomorrow?
Why do we care about today’s mistakes? Shouldn’t we just sweep them under the rug, celebrate the victories and move on with tomorrow?
If You Aren’t Making Mistakes, Then…
Things don’t always go as we plan, but think about this: There are NO mistakes, only lessons. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably are not working hard enough or putting in the right effort. Now, when I say “mistakes”, I’m talking about unintentional mistakes, not deliberate or malicious acts or outright incompetence. Trial and error can be an effective method of resolving an issue or solving a problem – and yes, that error part can seem like a wicked setback or downright defeat. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you reflect upon the error resulting from your trial, you might find even greater success than what you were seeking in the first place.
You Spilled the Milk? Well done!
I recently read an article that told the story of a research scientist who was known for having made medical breakthroughs. This scientist credited his mother for an important lesson which he believes helped to make him a more creative thinker.
He describes spilling some milk. Instead of becoming angry, his mother first let him play in it (after all, it was already spilled). Then she offered him several options as to how it could be cleaned up, let him choose one, and helped him do it. Last, she asked him what he thought caused him to spill the milk. He said that he lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell from his hands. So, she refilled the milk bottle with water and took him outside to test out different ways to hold the bottle until he found one that worked for his little hands. Yes, he made a mistake, but look at how many things he learned because of it!
Missteps Can Be Profitable
I ran into a terrific blog post that shows the real-life value of making mistakes. It’s amazing to think that, were it not for a misstep or failed attempt, such significant findings like penicillin, X-rays, pacemakers, and microwave ovens would never have been discovered. Not to mention those discoveries that led to less-significant products that we can’t imagine our lives without, such as Post-It Notes, fireworks, the Slinky, and potato chips!
Daily Reflection for Success
Think about the questions I listed at the beginning of this post. They will allow you to reflect on your day and all the situations you were put in. Reflect on the answers, decisions and/or next steps you choose. While taking some well-needed executive time for 10-20 minutes at the end of each day, the clarity you get from these questions will make your next day more productive, your growth curve trend upward and give you the time you need to make a better decision the next time around. There is nothing better than a “do-over” teachable moment to grow your business.
Everyone who grows and thinks big has made big mistakes to get where they are.
Keep going. Keep trying. Keep thinking big!