Choosing a career

Why making mistakes is good for your career

- June 17, 2024 3 MIN READ

Transitioning to a new team in my previous IT job seemed like a promising move to escape a poor boss. However, it turned out to be a leap from the frying pan into the fire. Instead of finding relief, I encountered a micro-managing bully of a manager. I thought to myself at the time, ‘I have made a huge mistake, I should have stayed where I was’ shares Charlotte Blair, author of Career Unstuck.

The ensuing experience taught me a profound lesson and provided the impetus to pursue work that offered greater autonomy and fulfilment.

Learning by doing has always been my chosen method of growth. I accept and value the practical lessons that come from things going awry. Whether it was underestimating the scope of a contract or neglecting my tax responsibilities in my early days of self-employment. I am #madebydyslexia,  typos and errors are a regular occurrence. Each misstep has taught me to dust myself off, ask better questions, seek clarity, be transparent and adapt accordingly.

Coach yourself

Making mistakes might seem counterintuitive to career growth, but it’s actually a crucial component of success. Ask yourself, ‘What is the worst that could happen?’

Not all career mistakes are the same. I am not talking about life or death situations like giving the wrong medication to a patient. Making mistakes isn’t what I would call fun but it’s about embracing it as an essential part of the journey. Here’s why:

  • Learning Opportunity: Mistakes provide invaluable learning experiences. They teach us what doesn’t work and push us to find new solutions. Each mistake is a chance to gain insights and refine our skills.
  • Resilience Building: Dealing with mistakes fosters resilience. It teaches us to bounce forward from setbacks, which is a vital skill in any career or business. Overcoming challenges strengthens our ability to handle adversity in the future.
  • Innovation and Creativity: Some of the greatest innovations have stemmed from mistakes or failures. When something doesn’t go as planned, it forces us to think outside the box and explore alternative approaches.
  • Humility and Growth Mindset: Embracing mistakes entails recognizing that we don’t possess all the answers and that there’s continual room for improvement.
  • Building Trust and Authenticity: Admitting mistakes and taking ownership of them builds trust and credibility. Customers, colleagues and employers appreciate honesty and authenticity. It shows that you’re accountable and willing to learn from your experiences, which can enhance your reputation in the workplace.
  • Overcoming Fear of Failure: Fear of failure can be a powerful force that hold us back from taking risks and pursuing new opportunities. By embracing mistakes, we gradually overcome this fear and become more willing to step outside our comfort zones into our growth zone.

How to unleash your personal strengths for business growth

Embrace the fear

Fear is a universal experience that accompanies us on our life journey, whether we acknowledge it or not. Instead of brushing it aside, it’s important to recognise and engage in a dialogue with fear. Consider what it truly means to be brave—to embrace the possibility of slipping up, to dare to try, and to step boldly forward, escaping the constraints of your comfort zone, and entering the expansive, fertile grounds of personal growth.

David Rock’s SCARF model identifies five social domains that influence human behavior: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.

Regarding Certainty, Rock suggests that our brains crave predictability and certainty to reduce perceived threats and promote feelings of safety. Uncertainty triggers a threat response in the brain, activating the amygdala and triggering the fight-flight-freeze response. Therefore, individuals are motivated to seek clarity and certainty in their environment to minimize perceived risks.

Many of life’s most significant achievements, loftiest goals, and rewarding experiences necessitate stepping outside the comfort zone and embracing risk. However, it’s often our own minds that can hinder us from reaching our full potential.

The gatekeeper

By avoiding mistakes and playing it safe, we risk allowing remarkable career and business opportunities to slip through our grasp. Dwelling on the negative “what-ifs” rather than the positive possibilities can act as a barrier to our own happiness. So, instead of becoming the gatekeeper of our own happiness and potential, let’s dare to embrace uncertainty and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

As Michael Jordon famously said ‘I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed’

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"