Hello SOTGC community,
The title of this post came from an observation I had the other day. I was driving to one of my accounts and was mulling over a problem when I came to a red light. While waiting for the light to turn green a man walked by in front of my car, and half way through the crosswalk, he tripped. I have always enjoyed watching a good trip, mostly to see how people act in an effort to prevent it. I myself have tripped many a times and on occasion, over exaggerated the process of trying to catch myself so I don’t fall.
I do this mostly because I assume someone is watching and it’s going to look funny anyways, so might as well give them a good show.
This gentleman did the obligatory “arms flailing, speed up the walk to regain your normal stride” and then once he caught it, whipped his head around to see if anyone was watching. When he caught me grinning at him he smiled, gave me a slight bow, then walked off.
This was awesome! Everyone, at some point in their life, both figuratively as well as literally “trips” and how they handle the recovery and then the observation of the “trip” is what defines how they move forward and what they take from the experience.
During the course of my career in sales and also my personal experience I have not only tripped, but stumbled, fallen, and on occasion found myself lying there blinking at the sky (figuratively) and figuring out the best way to get up and brush myself off. My mentor and the people I look to in my life for advice always tell me it’s not only acceptable, but is in fact important to make mistakes if I am to grow as a professional and individual. However, they stress that I must always learn something from them, and be able to apply this lesson going forward in order to avoid a worse situation in the future.
One of the hardest things for us as driven, intelligent, and competitive people is to realize and then have to admit that we made a mistake. Somehow, throughout the course of our childhood we have been taught that mistakes carry with them a negative connotation and are indicative of either stupidity or carelessness. I would say that this applies when leaving a full cup of coffee on the top of your car and backing out of your driveway, or being in such a rush to get out of the house that you look down and you have worn your pink, fuzzy, “at home” socks along with your scrubs and clogs (not that I have done either of these…) However, some of the best inventions and discoveries have come from “mistakes.”
I logged onto Forbes.com and found a great article written by Paul Schoemaker called “Learning From Brilliant Mistakes”
Schoemaker earned an MBA and PhD in Decision Sciences from the Wharton School. He has spent time as a professor — heading a research center into behavioral economics at the University of Chicago and leading Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation – and a real-world scenario builder at Royal Dutch/Shell in London.
Brilliant Mistakes starts from the premise that 99% of successes come from failures. Therefore, he argues that it’s puzzling for failure to have such a negative label. And he believes that since mistakes are so valuable, people should learn from them.
This observation leads Schoemaker to three implications for managers: