It’s a fact of life, we will make mistakes. Mistakes that regardless of how much training we take we will make; mistakes that regardless how conscientious we are we will make; and mistakes that regardless how cautious we are we will make. Now don’t get me wrong, many mistakes can be prevented because they happen out of carelessness; however, there are two that can’t be avoided:
Communicating incorrectly: There will be times in which you will say or write something that on second thought you would have said differently. We miscommunicate because we get rushed, get angry, or have different definitions of the same word. A personal example I always like to use is that my wife Celest and I have been together for 40 years and it took me 15 years before I understood when she said, “Go ahead” that it wasn’t permission--it was a dare! My dumbass went ahead and couldn’t understand why she was ticked when I got back home. A professional example is when we moved to Minneapolis and I started working at Medtronic. Periodically, I would say something, people would respond by saying, “Hmmm, that’s interesting.” I came to learn that response was their polite way of letting me know what I said was either some dumb sh*t or freaking them out. (Down South, people say, “Bless your heart”) On the positive side, communication mistakes can be quickly corrected with a sincere apology once you understand the miscommunication. For example, I once had a group of people turn against me because they felt I was talking down to them. In retrospect, I was. I had come in with all of the answers and didn’t take the time to fully understand their situation. I apologized. The next thing I knew they were fully supportive of me because “James listens to feedback and will admit when he is wrong.”
2. Putting your trust in someone who doesn’t deserve it: Very few things are more
hurtful and disappointing than finding out that someone who you thought had your
back was stabbing you in the back, or someone you thought could do a job can’t.
When those situations occur, you spend a lot of time thinking how could you have let
your guard down for it to happen. Well, regardless of how hard you screen, a bad
apple will get through. I’ve come to learn the problem isn’t that the person got
through: it was that I took too long to act once I saw the person wasn’t trustworthy or
competent. The longer it takes for you to act, the more it will start affecting your
behavior. You will become frustrated, aggravated, and will eventually go off in an
unprofessional manner, making you the problem instead of the person. Once you act,
people will admire you for your courage and character.
In closing, the above two inevitable mistakes will occur regardless of how hard you try to prevent them. Take comfort in knowing that they are not fatal. In fact, they can work to your advantage because you show character by apologizing when you say something wrong and by distancing yourself from people who prove to be dishonest.