Mistakes in business can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not the business itself. So every year we invest dollars in our people to ensure they are knowledgeable, skilled and have the necessary resources at their fingertips. Yet trial and error has been an effective and fundamental problem solving tools for centuries. I mean, we’re all familiar with the saying that we learn from our mistakes. So how do you encourage your employees to take risks, knowing that mistakes are going to be made, without bankrupting the business?

Some mistakes turn out to be the best creations ever. My friend’s second child is representative of just that. Yet on a serious note I am referring to one’s ability to step outside of their comfort zone in the pursuit of growth and opportunity.  We don’t all feel we have the ability to adopt this attitude in the workplace though. A great leader however will encourage such a culture. They will cultivate a thinking process where the exploration of unrealised possibilities is acceptable. When mistakes are made they are rectified with the backing of the team, but a repeat of such a mistake will not be readily supported. They will also have boundaries on which areas of the business risk taking is acceptable and those which are not. For example, staff may not be able to undertake explorations that could potentially damage relationships with clients, but they may be able to explore new technologies that ultimately enhance relationships with their clients.

An important part of making a mistake is learning from it. The astute employee will recognise when they have made an error, salvage the best outcome and learn from their experience. That is where the true value of making a mistake lies, the wisdom one gains and the lessons they learn. Yet taking ownership of the error in the first instance is not an easy feat for most. By taking control of a mishap however you can identify the point of failure and implement measures to avoid this occurrence in the future. The ability to turn a mistake into a positive is a clear sign of ones capability to manage and perhaps grow into one of the greatest business leaders. Richard Branson did not have a smooth ride to the top. He made mistakes.

People fear failure but taking risks in the workplace will test us. It will prove who has the greatest agility to learn. That is to say, who is the most self-aware and can ask themselves how they can do better, and who can respond to changing situations. When seeking out a promotion it is great to highlight your successes, however the person who can demonstrate that their achievements were based on their ability to learn from their mistakes will show themselves to be advocates of change, creative thinkers and leaders in their field. In the current business climate remaining competitive will not be accomplished if you never try new technologies, branch out geographically or implement a new process, right? The absence of experimentation may actually see you persisting with the same mistakes, rendering yourself uncompetitive in the marketplace. Continually questioning and testing your methods will lead you to best practises.

Many wrongs can make a right. It is the ability to be daring, to not fear failure that will have the best performing organisations embracing short-term setbacks in the realisation of profitable long-term success. Some companies and individuals are loath to admit mistakes and accept that they can be anything other than a success. To alter your approach to failure and adopt a change in attitude towards achieving greater business efficiencies, take a few minutes and watch this Ted Talk. Taking on the Marshmellow Challenge will help you to understand that it is our shortcomings that define us and ultimately our success in business; http://marshmallowchallenge.com/TED_Talk.html…You can’t grow if you don’t give yourself the opportunity to grow.

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