Yes, the mistake was made!!!

oopsHow many times it happens when you commit a mistake and try to hide it to the maximum possible time and also from the maximum possible people? I believe it’s natural in all of us that apart from accepting the mistakes, we either try to hide it or try to blame someone else. It’s human tendency and can be seen even in the leaders and professionals. This nature of not accepting the mistakes basically arises due to the fact that in our personal lives, professional environment and social gatherings the mistake is always viewed as “bad”.

In our kindergarten our teachers used to say, “we learn from our mistakes” but as we grow up this teaching gets faded and instead of taking risks of mistakes, we follow the set path.



Before moving further, let’s check the meaning of mistake from the world of dictionary. It is defined as, “an unfortunate, unwise and incorrect act or decision result of a bad judgement, ignorance or inattention.” It is widely separated from error which is defined as a piece of incorrect work. A mistake can be a typo, reading wrong signboards while travelling on highway, pressing foot on accelerator instead of brakes in traffic, mentioning wrong dates on cheque leaves (most of the times happen with year part) and many more which happens in our daily routine. Such kinds of mistakes which happen unintentionally and unknowingly are also termed as strong habit intrusion under which the person who has committed the mistake was in his full senses and the mistake just happened. Thus it is accepted widely that there are different kinds of mistakes and each kind should be handled in its own way. A solution which is acceptable for one mistake may or may not help for others and thus it is recommended to think and discuss before implementing any solution against any mistake. There are certain cultures in the world which are not so true and may be against other cultures but the follower of the same accept it and love them in any manner which sometimes results in bad and non-acceptable results.

Nevertheless, the mistakes can turn out to be hazardous also and if we refer our history we can find many such examples in which one wrong decision by leaders or common men turned out to be most harmful and dangerous. On one hand if sprinkling extra salt on the dishes can be termed as minor mistake, taking wrong turn on highway can be turned out dangerous. The impact of the mistake is controlled by the acceptable risks. The risks which happen after the mistake was committed define the severity of the mistake. The minor mistake on one part can be hidden easily, it is advisable to accept the major mistakes and try to find the work-around of the same. The same can be applied in our daily routine of professional and personal work.

Bill Gore, founder of “Gore-tex” defines the mistakes in two sections viz. above the line and below the line. According to him above the line mistake is safer than below the line as it’s easily visible and traceable. Below the line mistake is like hole in the base of the boat which is not visible from the front but it is most dangerous and can result into hazards.

Alina Tugned in her book, “Better by Mistake” says, “We all share the impulse to excuse what we do to convince ourselves that we didn’t act in a bad or irrational way and avoid taking responsibility of hurting someone. She also adds that when we become expert at something we start thinking that the mistake in that task/work can never be made and this sometimes results in overconfidence and in turn the probability of the mistake may increase. To overcome such situation it’s advisable to understand the bracket of confidence and then act. Also it’s not true the person with high confidence does the work with perfection. Perfection in any work needs practice and patience and highly perfectionist people work in their ways only as they fear of making mistakes before and during the process.

toddler learning to walkSo if the mistake can result in dangerous consequences, should it be avoided or feared of? I believe no, as running away from mistakes will certainly act as negative catalyst for creativity and development. When a toddler tries to walk, he falls down many times but his mother never stops him from learning the same and in turn he learns to walk after committing several mistakes.




The same is valid at work environment as well. Most companies which give space to the employees and accept the mistakes till the tolerable limits find more creative and learned employees on contrary to those for whom the mistakes can never be avoided. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book “Leadership: Strategies for Taking Charge” explains the positive impacts of the mistakes in the work environment and advise that institutions should reward admissions of mistakes as part of the organizational culture. Leo Tolstoy has once said, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” And thus to find the development in the scope of the work, instead of running behind the perfection and finding the right person to run the task, it’s always good to make the things rolling and encourage teams to learn from the mistakes. As Chanakya has said, “Learn from mistakes of others, you don’t have much time to learn from yours”. Hence it is truly said and accepted widely that if the success is not the good teacher, failure isn’t good either if we don’t learn from the lessons being taught.

Chris Argyris, an emeritus professor at Harvard Business School explains the concept of single loop and double loop learning with respect to the committed mistakes. If we read his theory in detail, the concept explains that when the set goals, values, plans and rules are operational rather than asking for counter questions, then the act is known as single-loop learning. Single-loop learning seems to be present when goals, values, frameworks and, to a significant extent, strategies are taken for granted. Hence if this concept is being followed, there is very limited scope of change even if the mistake happens but some believe if the set process is followed the bracket of committing mistakes shrinks and the process flow becomes smooth. In contrary to this, the other concept is known as double-loop learning under which there is a scope of alternate methods and gives space to question the existing strategies. This also helps at the time of practical implementation of the methodology. This learning is quite risky but is more creative. One can also learn from the mistakes and implement the changes following the double-loop learning methodology.

Blaming others is also very common under the situation when the mistake is being caught. When the mistake is marked and the responsible person is questioned, the first thought comes in his mind to blame it on fellow mates and not owning the same. We always try to find excuse from the responsibility of owning the mistakes and in more intense situations we become more defensive. It largely happens with the perfectionists and people with fixed mindsets. I strongly feel that owning a mistake is simplest way of getting out of it as once you own the mistake, you can focus on finding the solutions and even help others in recognizing better solutions in future. Thus think of the long term and instead of just pouring obvious excuses for the mistake and uttering dishonest claims man up and take real responsibility , take time to figure it out and resolve it to be prevented in future.

mistakes are proofSo this mistake, error, slip, fault or whatever should not be avoided or veiled instead try to own it and say loudly “Yes the mistake was made and I will try to rectify it before it results into hazardous outputs.




Happy Reading

2 thoughts on “Yes, the mistake was made!!!”

  1. Pingback: 手機外殼
    1. Hi,
      Thanks a lot for these encouraging words. I will keep on posting at regular intervals.

      — Aniket

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