Sharing Mistakes

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor” – Henry David Thoreau

I recently attended a talk by Joelle Emerson, founder of a company called Paradigm. It was a great talk from which I had many takeaways and things I could immediately apply to my life and the team I work with. One topic she discussed at length is trying to move ourselves and those around us from a “fixed” to a “growth” mindset. Having a fixed mindset takes the assumption that a problem is what it is, where a growth mindset promotes always trying to get better and control what you can.

There are situations where you can have a direct impact, an indirect impact, and no control. With a growth mindset we pay attention to those things within our circle of control and work to attend to the things where you can have a direct or indirect impact. Having a growth mindset means that you take control of your situation via the decisions you make, and not blame the conditions you were put in. Having a growth mindset means turning dead time into alive time where you are constantly learning or getting better.

One tactic Joelle offered, which I immediately implemented into my team meetings, is starting with each teammates sharing a mistake they have made and what they have learned from it. This does a few things:

  1. It helps everyone to let their guard down a little bit, admit when they are wrong, and show a little vulnerability.
  2. It shows each teammate that it is OK to be wrong, because everyone else in the room has been wrong at one point or another.
  3. Most importantly, if we are talking about what we have learned from this shared mistake, it helps each teammate to think about solutions. To recognize what is in their circle of control, and control it moving forward.

Know that every person has been wrong thousands of times before, including me and you. Don’t brush mistakes under the rug. Be vulnerable and grow: share your mistakes.

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