The trouble with most of us is that we feel liable to answer or solve everything. When our colleagues, mostly people younger than us, approach us with a problem, we feel a duty to solve. When innocent pairs of eyes look up to us, like a lamb at mother sheep, to get her out of a situation, we do just that.
The reality is that, we do not solve, we protect. We complicate. Wolf … wolf.
‘Whaaaat?’ You must be thinking. This seems to be anti-thesis to what we have been taught all our lives. Good Grades. Good College. Good marks. Solve the problems.
This is what I call the pawn approach. Often in the game of chess, a pawn front foots the army and, like daredevil, takes the Goliaths off the board. But, who would he be if not for the team that backs him. We magnify our own image with the little problems we solve. The pawn stays a pawn until he gets to the other side of the board where Goliaths sit. Don’t be the sacrificial pawn, for your team.
I learnt this from my first boss Archana Muthappa.
‘Be Good’, Archana would tell me at the close of every conversation. She’s a Greek God descendant, she claims, every time you ask her – ‘what’s with the good looks?’. A 6ft 2” person, she dwarfs practically everyone in both physique and kindness. It’s not that she would pardon me coming late to office. However, I would get her support if I made a real mistake. One that actually hurts unintentionally. I cannot imagine how she did that being a Car Rally Racer where any mistake is irreversible. The real kindness was in her ability to allow space to make ‘real’ mistakes, for everyone in her team. That, in her parlance, was the real meaning of ‘Be Good’.
Real Mistakes vs Fake Mistakes
Ever so often we have heard – Make Mistakes. Make them your stepping stones. Do all mistakes qualify as stepping stones. Which kind of mistakes are we talking about here?
Is there a way to judge real from fake? Many factors play a role in making mistakes. For one person, a mistake may be real, for another, fake. However, you can factor in circumstance, situation, experience in understanding the mistake. The real denominator is ‘will’. If there is no willingness to avoid, change, correct then be sure to call it out for yourself and for others in your circle.
Discerning real mistakes from fake ones is where magic really lies. Don’t make fake mistakes.
In my opinion, it’s easy to allow space for mistakes. The hard part is to identify fake mistakes, and have the courage to course correct instead of allowing it. Telling someone or yourself that you made a mistake and you need to correct it is harder than telling someone you did well. The former makes you vulnerable to being disliked, by someone or yourself.
To do that effectively, your magic spell is ‘Ekrixi pséftika láthi!’ – Burst Fake Mistakes. Burst fake mistakes and allow space for real mistakes. Not just for others, but for yourself too.
‘Ekrixi pséftika láthi’- is Greek for ‘Burst Fake Mistakes’. It’s a magic spell to ‘Be Good’. It’s a term first seen here on Reputation Today, coined for the exclusive use for the readers of this article.