There’s Gold in ’Em Mistakes

Published on September 17, 2007

Making mistakes are part of life. Learning from mistakes and not repeating them is what separates successful people from wannabe´s. Take Tom Coughlin, head coach of the NY Giants football team. Known as a stern and harsh coach, he decided to change his ways. While his previous approach served him well in the past, it has led to failure in the present. Most players today will not respond to stern discipline alone. Ask Tiki Barber, NY Giants star running back who retired last year in his prime. While a budding television career and lack of passion were part of his reason for quitting, so was his relationship with Coach Coughlin.

Tim Mara, co-owner of the Giants, urged Coughlin to allow more of his “real self” to show; an approachable person with a good sense of humor. He was urged not to lead so much with an iron fist. In training camp, he did this. Players no longer had to wear pads for both practices each day. One day, he put them all on a bus and went bowling. He no longer snipes at reporters. You may ask if this going to pay off with better results? That is still to be determined as the season is about to start. However, Coach Coughlin knew something different had to be done. As he said, “It is not about saving one´s job. It is about learning from your mistakes and trying new things to achieve different results”.

In managing sales people, I always looked for the ones who were making mistakes. I valued them more than the ones who never made mistakes. Those who never made mistakes tended to be the one’s who weren´t willing to try new things. They stayed within their comfort zone. For the one’s who did make mistakes, what I looked for was to see if they learned from their mistakes. They typically out performed those who did not learn from their mistakes or never made any.

Most bosses will accept errors of commission. It shows your willingness to do things “outside of the box”. It is errors of omission that could put you in hot water with them. What type of mistakes are you making? Take the time to reflect on this. Doing the same thing over and over will only produce the same results. Analyzing what is working and not working, and coming up with different strategies will turn your mistakes into gold.

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