My Take On Mistakes

Mistakes are perfectly okay if you don’t miss the opportunity to take something away from them.

I made a mistake recently… a really simple one related to managing my calendar. There was a mix-up that potentially impacted a colleague, a client, and an educational institution. I was double booked. I got angry at first at various people involved, till I reflected on the chain of events and concluded it was nobody’s fault. If anything, it was mine for not communicating clearly and not closing loops. I accepted the situation that I found myself in and asked the question “What do you want to do now?” The answer came pretty quickly once I had gotten to this point. I reminded myself of the simple mantra which was “Seek to be of service”. How could I keep this mindset and find solutions? For myself and all involved.

A few deep breaths later it became clear what I needed to do. In the world of Public Relations, the playbook of Crisis Preparedness has these three principles at its core. 1) Own the problem. 2) The need for speed. 3) Do the right thing.

Own the problem. This was my takeaway. It did not matter who was at fault. There was a problem that had arisen, I needed to focus on solving it. Getting angry or grumpy which were the two easiest first reactions were completely unhelpful, to myself and others involved.

The need for speed. I did not have the luxury of figuring out who messed up and why I found myself in a sticky situation. A potentially irate client, a colleague who felt let down, and an opportunity to engage with a new educational institution would not wait for me to get to the bottom of the problem. A root cause analysis can and will be done later, but for now, I must find a solution and move forward.

Do the right thing. Armed with this insight and a positive attitude, all the pieces started to fit together and I was on my way again. I spoke to all involved, calmed everyone down, and agreed on an action plan. I am happy to report that the plan worked and all involved are satisfied, including me.

“What do I want?”… “What don’t I want?” and questions like these were ones that I never allowed myself to think of let alone find answers for. I was always trying to find ways to fit in, do the right thing, and serve others. After all, that is what a good client servicing person does, was my view of the world. I made this mistake a long time ago. It took me ages to be able to see the takeaway. To feel it and understand that a holistic and sustainable approach needed to also factor me into the equation.

I can see clearly now. “Ask for what I need…” is one big takeaway that has taken me a very long time to learn. I kept telling myself “Put your head down and do the work, eventually everything you want will follow….” But I made the mistake of assuming others would know what I wanted and needed. Most people are so caught up in their own lives and problems and opportunities that they are not looking at mine. Even those who want to and care to help can only do so when I signal to them what I need and want. I need to be centered and clear about who I am and what value I deliver. I call this my “Human Being” and my “Human Doing”. From this place of self-awareness and clarity, I can navigate through all the mistakes with ease.

This is my take on dealing with mistakes. The journey of life is paved with them. Big ones, small ones, significant and insignificant ones. Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. The way through and past them is to pay attention to what is true for you. Accept it. Learn from it. Ask yourself “What is the takeaway from the miss?” “Who do I want to be?” “What do I want to do?” the answers emerge… and then I keep moving forward. Take the next step. Life is calling. Embrace it. One mistake at a time.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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