It’s only a mistake if you don’t learn something. #51: 2010
As I was having coffee with a friend a few weeks ago, we got to talking about library land (no surprise!) and our greatest mistakes. There were the young-know-it-all-librarian missteps, the open-mouth-insert-foot gaffes, and the I-didn’t-see-that-coming oversights. It was a really funny conversation, but it ended with my friend saying in her wise way, “you know, Ms. Kitty, it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn something.” The quote (original source unknown) keeps coming back to me, because it is so true.
Learning from mistakes is an important lesson to embrace as a leader. It helps you solve problems and understand your library and staff better. Library leaders who learn from their mistakes also:
• Develop a positive attitude which, in turn, affects the folks around them.
• Handle large, complex problems more effectively. Practice makes perfect in this case!
• Consider each error an opportunity and look at the world from different angles. Different perspectives help them bounce back and find a solution. This is the powerful learning opportunity that a mistake provides.
• Build confidence, because they are able to correct the mistake and become a better leader for the experience. This process is extremely powerful and self-assuring.
To put this into practice, I make a regular practice of asking myself what I learned from a negative experience or a mistake. What were the tell-tale signs that I missed and how could I have better handled it? How can I avoid it next time? Encouraging staff to view mistakes as learning opportunities allows them the freedom to try new ways of doing things. They are reassured that their experience, regardless of the result, will teach them something and that they will be better because of it. This is the foundation upon which innovation is built.
The sin (if one believes in such things) is not in making a mistake but in not learning from it! Here’s to the power of learning from our mistakes!
Have a great week.
Kitty Pope #51 January /11