By Andy Bailey
As part of the quarterly planning process for clients, we ask leaders and their team members to think back on the highlights and low points from the last quarter. What happened that was great? What are some issues that need to be addressed? Often, it’s surprisingly difficult to remember everything that had happened over the past three months.
Think about it. Can you remember much of the last few months? It’s challenging to remember what all happened even last week. Sure, the highlights stick out. You aced a presentation or hired a new team member. The day-to-day details though, get a little fuzzy.
In business, this short-term memory can be a good thing, as it allows you to move forward without being hung up on the errors in your past. In fact, as you make mistakes, the ability to forget and move on can be powerful.
Here are four ways to help you do this.
1. Don’t focus on the failures. It’s OK to make mistakes, particularly if they were done trying to move the company forward. This attitude should be celebrated. Having a culture of calculated risk-taking means your team members are trying new things, failing and trying again.
Instead of focusing on the actual mistake, focus on the lesson learned. Spread the mistake around, talk about it and find different solutions. This positive analysis gives your team the chance to grow and improve. If asked, most business leaders can probably attribute a great success to the lessons generated from a few missteps along the way.
2. Keep things in perspective. If you happen to be the next one to fail in your organization, don’t blow things out of proportion. This gives the failure a longer shelf life than necessary. It’s not the end of the world. Unless you were attempting something completely illogical, your teammates will forgive quickly and move on. Let go of the negative energy and do the same.
3. Forget about high school. The business world isn’t high school and no one is standing in the corner talking about you (we hope). So what if your sales pitch wasn’t a home run? Don’t be ashamed. There is more power in shrugging the failure off and moving on than in dwelling on it for days. Spend your energy brainstorming ways you can make the next pitch more successful. The faster you move on from the mishap, the sooner everyone else will.
4. Talk about your wins and losses. You’re not the only person in the world that has messed up. Even the most successful business leaders fail—often. Talk about your highs and lows with others in your organization. You may help someone avoid a similar mistake, or encourage him to take a chance on his next big idea. The ability to openly share about defeats, without remembering the feeling of failure, will make you a better leader.
How will you handle your next mistake?
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves as the entrepreneur organization’s global membership director. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight. @AndyBailey01.