in Leading People, Leading Projects, Leading the Self, Random Thoughts

Dealing with Mistakes and Accepting it – Great Story

Most of this week was spent in a lot of work and in recuperating from thoughts/images of Mumbai terror – great thing is that people are asking straight, no-nonsense questions creating pressure on Government to act fast in the right direction.

My earlier post  – “To err is human – Treating people when they make mistakes” generated some interesting responses which only took the subject forward. In continuation to that, I read a very relevant story on Here it goes:

“There’s the story about a top salesman in the aircraft industry who messed up. He lost a $5,000,000 contract. At his desk the next morning he starts going through his papers – tidying them up, clearing his desk. He gets a phone call from his manager,

“Have you got 5 minutes? ”

“Sure” he mumbles and slowly makes his way up the stairs to his boss’ office.

As he enters the room he says “Look I know I got it wrong – I’m sorry – I’ve written my letter of resignation – here it is ” and puts it on the desk.

His manager looks at the letter, rips it in half, rips it in half again and puts it in the bin.

“You must be joking” she says smiling ” We’ve just spent $5,000,000 on your training – there’s no way you’re leaving until you’ve made that back for us.”

Great way to look at mistakes your people make!

Another interesting insight stuck me when I saw one of my team members arguing/defending on a very obvious mistake he committed. We make mistakes and we have our limitations. We rectify our mistakes, learn from it and move on. We try to overcome our limitations to whatever extent we can. But many a times, our ego does not allow us to accept our mistake or limitations. End result is stress. Most of the times, accepting things saves you (and others) from a lot of stress. Arguing or trying to justify when you know you have made a mistake is a cost resulting out of time wasted in justifications and illogical reasoning. This feeds negativity and gives a sense of running against the tide. Accepting on the other hand relieves stress and enables you to focus on correction.

How do you treat your people (friends, colleagues, family and team members) when they make mistake? Do you resist when someone points your mistake? I would be interested to know!

Update: Tom Peters in his recent post says the following in regards to my earlier post on treating people when they make mistakes:

No Mistakes. No Progress.

  1. Hi Tanmay, Its true that mistakes are really a next step of Progress.

    Its always good to deal with mistakes “big heartedly” in day to day life we are facing. However, there are many stories which show other part of the story that you have mentioned.

    There are few guys in my team which I have come across who are really taking their mistakes very lightly and repeating again and again and test your patience.

    Keep writing good notes.

  2. Thanks Niraj, for your comment. As I wrote, not accepting ones mistake only results in stress and the chances of repeating those mistakes just increases.

    You are right – people would come in all varieties and inspite of all that managers do, people would repeat same mistakes over and over again. On a long haul, these people compromise their own growth when they consciously choose to overlook their mistakes.

    People who don;t take mistakes seriously and repeat them again and again don’t make any progress. They may work hard, but in a wrong direction. It is like walking on a treadmill – while you think you are walking, you are not going anywhere!! 🙂

    Keep reading and commenting!

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