November is the month we celebrate thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation. Lately, in my neck of the late autumn woods, we’ve been talking story about mistakes, and how we should appreciate them.

What? Be thankful for mistakes?

Absolutely. Let’s really think about this with an open mind.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t stretching enough, learning enough, or embracing the catalytic converter action sequences that your mistakes can help you get comfortable with.

You’ve made a mistake. Did others miss that you made it, or did they knowingly allow it to happen, and have it be okay? When you are in a safe environment in which first-time mistakes are welcomed as the germinating seeds they are, and they do happen frequently as part of the evolutionary process of the work culture you are in (work, family, club or otherwise), you are fortunate indeed: You are in an atmosphere of trust and trustworthiness.

Think of your first-time mistakes to be petri dishes of the future breakthroughs that they potentially can be. Think of them as right-reason idea-experiments gone awry. Think of them as those times you don’t have to know all the answers yet, because you knowingly want to push the envelope in testing the variables. Think of them as a short-term way to test a better long-term decision.

Enlist others to help so the worth of the idea you’ve tested isn’t lost, and enlarge your connectivity with others. Let’s say you’re stuck, so you ask for help. You have to articulate your vision for others, and be willing to lead with the insights of your experience with this thus far. You have to be open-minded, and willing to let others enlist in your mission and make significant contributions, understanding that if they are to help you make this happen, it must be a win-win for everyone concerned. Way more learning and growth is involved here than just about the mistake itself!

Let’s say you fail at your efforts the second time around. The way I look at it, you’ve made the concept of “failure” an evolution of sorts, for we’re no longer talking about a mistake, are we. We are talking about the intent to succeed with a potentially rich idea. We are taking about your purposefully creating your future instead of being satisfied with circumstance and happenstance. Now how cool is that?

Admittedly, there are good mistakes (they help us learn as we live) and bad mistakes (the careless or chronic ones that plague the thoughtless or irresponsible). We each need the awareness that every mistake we make can potentially go down either road. Give yourself a break, and don’t beat up on yourself when you have a misstep. Take the path on which your mistakes are only good, and they become the marvels they can be.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be back next Thursday. On every other day, you can visit me on Talking Story, or on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha!

Rosa Say, author of
Managing with Aloha
, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

Article references/ Related writings:
This article was exclusively rewritten for the readers of Lifehack.org today. The following reference articles were written for managers, urging them to create a safe environment in which learning from mistakes can flourish:
Article 1: Mistakes are Cool
Article 2: Let’s Talk Story about GOOD Mistakes

Previous Thursday Column:
Make Mine Personal.

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