Quality Magazine

Jim's Gems: Nuggets of Opportunity

October 12, 2009

Here are a few things to ponder when there is nothing else on your mind:

We should think of mistakes as valuable reminders that we do not know it all. As such, mistakes certainly provide nuggets of opportunities from which to learn. Mistakes should be viewed as a sign that we're making progress. Why? When mistakes are made, it means we are putting forth effort and trying to have a positive impact.

Most of us likely learned at an early age to treat mistakes as cause for shame or, at the very least, a reason to consider mistakes as failures. However, many countless achievements required someone to work his way through the greatest errors and misunderstandings.

Mistakes should not be feared. The same actions that enable us to make a mistake also puts us in a position to correct it. Thomas Edison was attributed to the saying, "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

History tells us what happened on his 10,001 attempt. How's that for persistence that led to a world-changing event?

When we're willing to accept the possibility of mistakes, we're able to get on the journey that will lead to our best opportunities. When we become experienced at handling mistakes, we'll hone our skills at creating real value.

Success comes not from avoiding mistakes, but from learning to find a positive way to move forward no matter what happens. Accept that we will make mistakes--and some might be whoppers.

When we make a mistake, it is acceptable to perform an autopsy and think about what happened-but, then, you must quickly get over it. Understand what happened, learn from it, gain wisdom from it and become even more effective than before. There is a saying that we used on November 21,1987, but is still appropriate today: "The person who never makes a mistake, loses a significant opportunity to learn something new."