What are the mistakes to avoid

Avoid mistakes or learn from mistakes?

People make mistakes.

It's as simple as that. But we cerebral adults, with or without a tendency to improve at work, can turn even such a simple fact into a complicated matter.

Some demand a positive error culture, look for ways to improve without guilt in retrospectives or talk about their failure in fuck-up nights. Others point out how “uncool” and bad failure is, smile at such fuck-up nights and point out that nobody wants to be treated by a doctor who pats himself on the back for his mistakes. Or that we prefer to fly in airplanes whose crew tries from the start to make a flight from A to B an unspectacular and crash-free routine affair.

So far so good.

I think it is right to look at a topic from different angles. This opens up opportunities for insight and learning. But to make a subtle distinction between errors and mistakes: that seems a bit too academic to me.

What is it like to make mistakes?

How was it, dear reader, when you last made a mistake and became aware of it?

Of course, it makes a difference whether you “just” forgot your wedding day or caused billions in damage through your mistake; To have misunderstood a customer's request and to have to make improvements is something other than driving the cart completely in front of the wall and losing the customer.

But if you just look at that moment when you yourself became aware of the mistake: the missed expectations - your own as well as those of others - and perhaps the possible consequences: how was this moment for you?

What is it actually about?

Let's take this consideration further: how would you behave in the future?

Let's say you were in a very similar Situation like the one that led to this error. As a reflective person, you have probably drawn conclusions as to which factors contributed to the problem and now you have this idea that you have to behave somehow differently in order not to jump into the faux pas again and this time.

What do you focus on

You could get on Avoidance to focus. You resolve not to make the same mistake a second time. You know the risk involved, you see the faux pas and you know: you would have to jump in there stupid. Then you take a run and jump ...

Whatever happens, was that really your goal?

Isn't it all about a positive result? Isn't it about the beaming partner on the wedding day; the passengers of the plane that just landed clapping in relief, half in politeness; or the customer who is so satisfied with your performance that they come back and even recommend you to others?

People are wrong and make mistakes - and that mistakes can stand in the way of a positive result: given.

What it shouldn't be about is fear

We don't need a Fredmund Malik to come to this conclusion.

Not a management professional who likes to use phrases dangerous bullshit throws around and always invokes the catastrophe scenarios to support his statements, in which one mistake costs human lives and with terms such as Due diligence trumps. Much more, we need support in order to be able to act calmly despite a risk, to make the right decisions and to work towards a positive result.

We also know that mistakes have negative consequences can and better not to happen in the first place.

Accordingly, we strive to set the course accordingly: We try to make our systems safer, invest in training and develop checklists for doctors as well as for pilots (“extend the landing gear before landing”) and yes: we carry out experiments under “controlled” conditions Conditions ”before we operate on an open heart.

But: how do we deal with it when mistakes happen anyway?

That is the question that leaves a maxim such as “mistakes must not happen” unanswered. Worse still: if this maxim becomes the basic motive, paradoxically, it even increases the likelihood of errors. Psychologists know this as avoidance motivation, which leads to fear in the long term and to doing the wrong thing in the decisive moments.

This is precisely why we should ask ourselves how we actually react to mistakes.

How do we react to mistakes?

As soon as it happens, before we become aware of an error, our brain reacts to the discrepancy between the expected and the actual result.

When the deviation hits our consciousness, we can either deal with it and try to find a solution. Or we can just shut up: perceive the deviation as a danger and try to escape the unpleasant feeling as quickly as possible. This escape reaction prevents our self-image from being damaged, but at the same time also prevents any constructive discussion of the problem. There is no learning success.

Now you might think that we can choose that and react one way or another. And we can probably do that too - at least in the long run.

In the opinion of some scientists, the way in which we react is related to our mindset: whether we assume that our personality traits can be set in stone or can still be developed; whether we see mistakes as a flaw to be avoided at all costs or as a challenge that we master, from which we can learn and grow from it. According to the scientists, this mindset (fixed vs. growth mindset) is definitely changeable.

But how mistakes are dealt with in our environment - whether they are valued or even punished - influences also how we will deal with problems in the future: whether we tend to be more solution-oriented or to escape mode.

What we really want

We want to avoid mistakes whenever possible, yes.

But we also want people who can tackle their tasks without the fear of failure as a constant companion on the neck; who orient their actions towards the desired result and not towards what should be avoided.

Ultimately, we are not all pilots or doctors and not every mistake (not even by doctors or pilots) costs human lives. We should therefore not pretend - and recklessly declare every mistake as a catastrophe from the outset. If mistakes do happen, after all, we want people who take responsibility and look for solutions instead of protecting themselves. We want them to be able to do this even if it does not take place under “controlled conditions” but in tough reality.

All of this requires support and trust in a positive result, but also that mistakes can be talked about openly and learned from them. For this it is helpful to take the horror away from mistakes by getting away from the stubborn blemish for the causer and the associated individualization of responsibility. In this way, you can look for the fault in the system together, instead of wasting time and energy on blaming.

This has nothing to do with a license, but much more to do with an honest look at reality.

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