You hit the “send” button, just as you realize that the person you were complaining about is among the list of recipients.
“Blunders, Bloopers, Gaffes and Goofs” – these words are all just different ways to express the same thing: a mistake.
Everybody makes them. I’ll bet you can recall a few that you’ve made that still bother you to this day. Look in the mirror and think about the biggest mistake you’ve ever made. Even your facial expression changes with the recollection, doesn’t it?
How do you deal with mistakes? Are you afraid of them?
Personally, I cringe even when somebody else makes a mistake.
A fairly generic definition of the word “mistake” could be, “an idea, answer or act that is wrong.” How’s that for a somewhat ominous, final-sounding phrase?
“You are wrong!”
I would love to tell you it is possible, but we can’t go back. There are no do-overs. But it might help us handle mistakes better if we try to rethink our approach to them and make them less worrisome.
The next time you recall a mistake you’ve made, try not to think of it in the conventional light, as something you’ve done wrong. Don’t think of it as a failure. Try to see it as “fulfilling a creative opportunity.”
I can see you shaking your head. You still view a mistake as a failure.
If you insist on taking the “failure” route, try to remember that failure is a part of your education. You are teaching yourself not to make the same mistakes over and over again.
We learn from our mistakes, and when we’ve learned what doesn’t work, we narrow down the choices by one. I would consider that a step in the right direction, wouldn’t you?
I think you can divide mistakes into two categories: simple mistakes and complex mistakes. Simple mistakes are the basic, every day errors in judgment; the kind that are fairly easy to dismiss, like ordering the wrong item or picking the wrong lottery numbers. Generally, we feel a little foolish, but these are fairly harmless.
The complex mistake is a little more complicated.
A perfect example for this would be the scenario I opened with; the brilliant email sent to the wrong person. And while this could help by opening up new dialogue, uncovering issues that need to be addressed, it also reveals an undesirable stumbling block, doesn’t it?
There’s a more noticeable “cause and effect” concern with this one. The result of this type of mistake is longer-lasting and almost always brings another experience along for the ride; the “embarrassing moment.”
Embarrassment places us center stage.
The key to embarrassment is the self-consciousness it creates. It makes us feel alone and uncomfortable. We apologize, even if we really don’t need to.
But embarrassment can be good for us. It can ground us and be a useful tool that can lead to self-change and improvement. Chances are, you will most likely think before making the same mistake again.
Here’s my advice on dealing with a mistake:
Don’t allow yourself to feel isolated. Anyone who tells you they’ve never made a mistake is lying. So smile and do your best to let it go, with the knowledge that you have just earned another degree in Human Nature. I can’t think of another class I would rather be in.