Sunday, August 18, 2013

It is Okay to Make Mistakes in your career – in fact, it is good!

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.” –Author Unknown
People go to all lengths to avoid making a mistake as they feel that mistakes are weakness and can be devastating. As a result, they live in a world of caution and oftentimes, that can zap growth and development. I see it in my practice all the time and work with companies whose employees don’t innovate due to fear of making a mistake.

Here is the real truth: Everyone makes mistakes. The real key to success is making good on a mistake you made, or being watchful to the pitfalls you can avoid. You learn from each mistake you make and hopefully you do not do it again!

In your job, there can be mistakes one can make that can be termed career-killers. The real career-killers – mistakes that can cause you to disconnect from a job or having your boss ask you to leave include the following:

Not accepting responsibility
When you make a mistake in your work, fess up to it – accept responsibility. In his book on leadership Good to Great, ( Jim Collins identifies a key traits: When in the face of crisis when a mistake has been made, followers look for someone to blame; leaders look in the mirror and accept responsibility.

Not being a team player
No one likes a prima donna who is just focused on me – me – me. Being a team player, and contributing to joint efforts will help one define their success. Demonstrate that you’ve got the greater good of the organization at heart.

Working with a fear of failure
Many work every day doing the same thing over and over. They appear not to believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Instead of saying, “I’ve never done that try  “I’ll learn how.” Find learning opportunities in every situation.  Consistently being risk-averse can be more hazardous to your career than making mistakes and learning from them.

Undermining people or the company
Talking behind the backs of others, undermining  managers or the company, discussing a confidential matters, or  spreading gossip.   Not only will you find yourself isolated, but others will not trust you and when  not trusted, your growth stops. Don’t engage others in  inappropriate discussions. While there is such a thing as free speech, it’s not so free if it costs you your job!

Being disrespectful
Being disrespectful to others – treating everyone as  you would expect to be treated – is important.  Being condescending to others, pretentious or making someone feel like they aren’t good enough is so damaging to all. There is no place in a job for yelling or calling someone out in front of others.

Being one of the “walking dead”,  without goals
You know them – the people who just come to work every day, do the bare minimum and simply collect a paycheck. They get by for awhile, but when business conditions require cost cutting, guess who’s the first to go. Always work with a set of goals – long and short term.  Talk your goals over with your manager.

My son, Greg Moran, CEO of ( wrote a book a few years back, Hire, Fire, and the Walking Dead: A Leader’s Guide to Recruiting the Best ( is which he discusses the “walking dead” .They are the ones that show up to work every day but do not seem to accomplish anything or be engaged in their work. They are there – partially – and having  people in a company who are the walking dead hurts productivity, morale of other employees and eventually customers. He refers to them as the George Constanza’s (Seinfeld character) of the workplace.

Checking your people skills at the door
Researchers found that if employees are disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether they’re good at what they do, because other workers will avoid them. Go out of your way to communicate, establish strong working relationship with others, smile and be engaging with others, it will work wonders for you. Developing and applying effective people skills can offset shortcomings in other areas as well!

Make mistakes. Learn from them. Don’t wallow in pity when you mess up – accept, learn and move on. Mistakes along the way are on the path to greatness and personal achievement.

And thank you for reading this. – Dan

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