The one mistake that could cost you your job

“A mistake is only a mistake if it’s done a second time.” How many of you have heard or read that lately?

What about – “fail fast and fail often” or “it’s not the mistake that matters, it’s the way you deal with it.”

I’ll be honest, I hate making mistakes. I don’t like being wrong either, especially at work. Whilst avoiding mistakes can be good, it has its downsides especially when it comes to taking risks. So I am learning how to handle mistakes better, both for my sake and that of my colleagues.

As a business owner, mistakes come part and parcel of the terrain. I definitely don’t know everything and am unable to control all circumstances. We can be the most organised and pedantic people ever, but life still happens.

As part of my learnings, I am working out which mistakes are OK to do and which aren’t. Simply because it changes my perspective and reaction to the mistakes (and in some cases the way I feel about them).  Two are completely legitimate and encouraged. But there is one, which grates me, mostly because it is avoidable, costly and pointless.

Let’s have a look at the 3 kinds of mistakes we all make (including the one which you should avoid)!

1 // Mistakes borne from trying something new

These are my favourite because they are brave mistakes. It’s not easy for people to put themselves on a limb and give something a try – especially when you can be proven wrong or loose face.

When you approach mistakes from this perspective you are being proactive, generally measuring what didn’t work and taking away learnings and positive outcomes. They also help us grow and move closer to our goals (whether personal or work related).

2 // Mistakes which form part of the learning process

These are inevitable if you are getting used to a new role, a new process, technology, company – anything.

Hindsight and experience are priceless because they enable you to foresee errors before you make them – however when you’re still at the beginning of any journey you need to find other ways to replace the wisdom that comes with time. Mistakes are part of that package.

3 // Lazy mistakes (or the bad kind of mistake)

Can’t be bothered reading over your work before pressing submit; being slack with the details; not listening to instructions or doing the same mistake a second or third time?

These are all unnecessary mistakes and ones, which do not bring any benefit either to yourself or to your colleagues. They generally end up costing time (and often money) to fix and can make irreparable damage to a brand especially in our 24hr news cycle and constant online presence.

The worst thing about lazy mistakes is that they generally reflect your work ethic and are generally quite hard to shift. I am not talking about having a bad day (that’s completely fine, as long as you are aware of it), but when lazy mistakes become the norm, red flags are raised.

So how should you avoid making lazy mistakes?

> Always double-check your work. I would rather wait for five minutes to have something handed in than find it riddled with formatting mistakes.

> Be smart. Things often translate from one area of the business into another (or from one project to another). So if you learnt a tip or skill in one area, re use it in another. Connecting dots is key.

> Ask for help. If you are not sure about why something went wrong, ask. Talk to your colleagues, read & skill up, be mindful of what led to the mistake in the first place.

Hey, learning from mistakes is important, it’s how we grow, try out new things, explore new ways of working, and work out what we like and what we don’t like. Mistakes are positive, as long as you can learn from them!


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Nadine is on a mission to facilitate 1,000,000 learning experiences through Bright Conferences and generationYOU. She strongly believes in the power of face to face learning and is keen to foster the sharing of knowledge from guru to student in any walk of life. Made in Malta. Breathes in Brisbane and Byron Bay. Is a terrible surfer and an avid shopaholic!