Top Ten List:
How To Avoid Making Mistakes
I was asked to republish this top ten list
about how to avoid making mistakes ...
by someone who just made a really big one.
And so, in honor of that request, here it is.
I'm hesitant to write about avoiding mistakes, because I actually believe mistakes are good for you. I've learned more from my mistakes than my victories. Some of my mistakes have also led to fantastic results, that wouldn't have materialized if the mistake hadn't happened. There can be great benefit in a well-managed response and recovery.
Trying to avoid mistakes is a bit like staying inside all summer to avoid a sunburn. The opportunity cost is too great. Get out in the sun, just be prepared and take specific steps to avoid the burn. For this analogy, I'd tell you to wear sunscreen, re-apply often, buy a hat, and seek shade every now and then. And always avoid stepping on banana peels.
In the workplace, avoiding the burn plays out something like this...
10. Trust your instincts.
Never ignore early warning signs. If it doesn't feel right, dig in.
9. Expect the unexpected.
Don't be cocky. Always consider what might go wrong.
8. Use care with information.
Choose - and be - a good source of information.
7. Listen to others.
Believe it or not, they're smart too. Sometimes smarter than you.
6. Don't try to do it all.
It's okay to ask for help. Partner with others when needed.
5. Watch your chain of command.
Don't stray too far up or down. It gets messy.
4. Don't procrastinate.
It creates unnecessary stress and spawns mistakes.
3. Avoid saying stupid things.
Especially in the interest of being funny or mean. It backfires.
2. Abstain from social network vomiting.
It's too easy for your comments to go viral.
1. Care about your work and reputation.
Without it, you're a mistake waiting to happen.
I read a comment on a blog recently that really stuck with me. Here's what it said: "The less I care, the more mistakes I make. I make a lot of mistakes here." It was anonymous and had nothing to do with me or any organization I'm involved with in any way.
That said, the boss in me wanted to fire him on the spot. The coach in me wanted to tell him to reconnect with his self-respect and find a new job. The writer in me appreciated the comment, because it was so honest and real.
One of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to care about your company, your job, your reputation, your clients, and your colleagues.
I offer this just as something to think about. If you find at some point that you don't care about your company, your job, your reputation, your clients or your colleagues - it's likely that you're making more mistakes than others would find acceptable. When you make a mistake, do a gut check to see if this may be the cause. If so, you may want to consider either changing your perspective or changing your job.
When you care and you make a mistake (and you will), the way you respond and recover makes all the difference in the world. For the full article on how to respond and recover after mistakes, click here.
Everyone makes mistakes. You will too. This Top Ten List may just help you make mistakes less often. And that's all anyone can really ask anyway, right?
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