Our biggest fear in making mistakes is not much the consequence of making mistakes, but how people around us would react when we make mistakes.
And it is this fear that stops people from even attempting to do anything what they would love to do.
Through out history, mistakes have been made, lives were lost due to wars, air crashes, car accidents, businesses went bust, yet life has moved on. Life never came to a stand still.
Most kids in school are reluctant to write because of the fear of seeing too many red underlines and corrections for their essay from their school teacher. Is it necessary to penalize kids ?
Is it not surprising that many grow up as adults and are still not confident to write ?
Most photographers would know that their first 1000 photographs always end up in the trash folder, before they get that perfect shot which they confidently share with the world.
These are not mistakes. This is how it is meant to be. What people refer to mistakes are actually outcomes that did not meet their own or other’s unrealistic expectations. Hence, the problem is with expectations, and not with the effort or lack of it.
The problem with expectations...
- You buy a professional camera and will turn into a professional photographer overnight.
- You launch your start-up and will become a millionaire in 6 months.
- You hire a star CEO and s/he will turnaround a failing business overnight.
- You found your perfect soul mate and there won’t be any differences all your life.
- Life will always be hunky dory and everything will happen as per your dream plan.
and the reality …….
- It takes patience and perseverance to build a portfolio of high quality images to be considered a professional photographer.
- Startups are destined to fail. Only a few succeed. Success or failure has got nothing to do with the capability of the founding team. Luck, timing and perseverance plays a major role. There is no short cut here.
- Life is an unpredictable roller coaster ride full of twists and turns scripted by someone up there who knows what/when/who is right for you.
Human errors can be fatal too ….but before pointing fingers let’s get into the details
A fatal collision had occurred between two Boeing jets on a runway in Tenerife on 27th March, 1977, that killed around 583 people, which was considered the worst civil aviation disaster on the ground, at least at that time.
As one would have expected, the initial reaction was to call it ‘pilot error’. However, detailed investigation revealed there was a series of events, lack of appropriate communication technology at that time, bad weather that lead to that disaster.
Why would a pilot make a mistake when his own life is in danger ? This accident happened. The pilots must have tried their best to avoid the crash, but they had reached a point of no return.
However, lessons were learnt. Communication technology has improved and now air travel is the most safest form of travel.
In the entrepreneurial world, start-up founders attribute failure to mistakes they might have potentially made instead of accepting the fact that any new venture is a risky business, and most will struggle to get off the ground anyway.
Successful entrepreneurs would know that success is achieved only after enduring failures in several start up ideas – some won’t even take off beyond the idea stage.
I also read a lot of content about entrepreneurship and mistakes start up founders make. It is always easy to write about other’s mistakes.
It is harder to take risk, jump into entrepreneurship and create something innovative and achieve success.
Not many know that ‘post-it’ notes did not stick as intended, but later on became a million dollar business because it did not stick and is easily removable. Here, a mistake became an opportunity.
I have a lot of respect for entrepreneurs who build such products, like the one I am using right now to share my thoughts rather than people who write about mistakes.
In the corporate world, however, it is a totally different story. A blame culture rules in most business organizations today.
In my 17 years I learnt that 80% of the staff who do the ‘real’ work get penalized and people who do performance reviews, steal credit and throw their own sub-ordinates under the bus for any mistakes rise up the ladder.
While I worked for a reputed organization in London, one of the manager I worked for once asked ‘Why is it that my project always has issues?’. The projects I was managing were complex information technology projects – issues are part of technology projects.
My team worked very hard on those projects and they were very capable people. I backed them every time there were issues.
With those years of experience in corporate career, it did not come as a surprise to me who got the credit though.