I make mistakes. A couple weeks ago I made a mistake that could have impacted the trust a team has afforded me.
I asked the team to complete an anonymous survey providing perspectives of their team mates. My intention was to compile the results generating a chart of results for each member. I had promised only they would see their personal chart. We would work with a team consolidated chart to protect the anonymity of individual results.
I chose to take this approach as it increases the likelihood people will share with 100% transparency. Complete transparency is important for the work I’m doing with this team.
After the results were in I processed the results and generated the charts. I emailed each person individually with their personal chart, and what I thought was just the consolidated team chart. The problem is I shared the file with all their individual charts.
I clued into my mistake the next morning when someone emailed me asking if I meant to share everyone’s results. Here’s the string of thoughts that quickly followed:
“Oh sh**!” Followed by a wave of shame.
“I knew I shouldn’t have done it last night when I was tired!”
“I suck … I’ve probably lost their trust and the business”
“They deserve better than this from me”
I then collected myself and composed the following note to the team:
“As you might know by now I’ve mistakenly sent out everyone’s results. This was an error on my part as my intention was to only openly share the team consolidated view. I sincerely apologize as I told you I would not do this. “
Thought of the week
I spent a lot of years trying to protect my ego and avoid or bury some of the mistakes I made. When we approach our mistakes in this way we start to spin a story around the mistake. The story might have you avoiding, denying, deflecting or any number of other natural behaviours.
It takes a lot of effort to maintain the stories I spin. When I just confront the truth and put down my mistakes I enjoy far more freedom in my life.
The next time you realize you’ve made a mistake start with a pause. Are you ready to take responsibility for your mistake or are you trying to avoid looking bad? The difference is in the mindset you are holding as you apologize.
“We can only apologize from a position of responsibility when we have first processed our own errors and truly feel the other party received less than our best treatment.” — Christopher Avery
I know I cannot avoid making mistakes as I’m human. So why work hard to protect your ego? Why not take responsibility for your mistakes by providing a heart-felt apology and enjoy the freedom of not carrying them around?