Making mistakes

Published in Features on 14 May 2014

We learn and grow by making mistakes. By listening, observing and trying out things, then reflecting on them, we figure out what works and what doesn’t. Then we use our assumption about why something did or didn’t work and build on that to continue to improve.

‘Failure is not a cataclysmic event. It doesn’t happen overnight. Instead it is a few errors in judgment, repeated, that occur every day.’ Jim Rohn

What would the social care community look and feel like if people and organisations had a space to share the mistakes they made and how they responded? Hmmmmmm, who likes to say something they did didn’t work? It failed is easy, they failed is commonplace, I failed and here is my failure for all the world to see – you don’t hear that very often. Why not?  It’s embarrassing, it leads people to question your capabilities and competencies… I am sure you could think of a whole number of other reasons.

But what if we owned and shared our mistakes and failures? What if we spoke about ourselves and what we do more holistically? What if we defined the depth of our knowledge, the heights of our ambition, and the strength of our learning not only by what worked and what we achieved but what failed and how we responded? And what would this mean to the development of this sector.

Whether we fail at something in our lives, or at work, we need to feel proud that we pushed ourselves to a point where we were unsure and out of our depth but tried anyway. One way to lessen the fear around failing is to try something new with someone else and be honest about when you have reached the edge of your knowledge, skills, capabilities and competencies. You are now making something up, trying something out. Not to harm or disillusion the person you are working with, and not because you are not professional and know enough, but because you are brave enough to try something new and want to change and develop things so they become better for you and the person you are working with. You enter a space where the two of you are heading into the unknown, you are going to learn something together. Life is an adventure.

Whilst (at the moment) it may feel like a grand ambition to have a forum for mistakes and failures that is fed by people in the social care community it is not an impossible idea. Why don’t we start small and see where this takes us? Try writing CV that is based around your failures. You are going to need honesty, reflection time and a supportive audience. IRISS is one of your supportive audiences. Send us your CV (you can be anonymous if you wish but are you really owning your failures if you decide to be so…?). We’ll collate the CV’s and create a wall of failure. Likely to be very quickly re-named ‘the wall of learning, insight and opportunity’. We will show you ours, if you show us yours.

By working together and making mistakes together we will learn together. This leaning can only strengthen our knowledge, skills capability and commitment to the improvements we want to see, feel and achieve in life.