Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When I Make a Mistake...

...(please fill in the blank for yourself before you read further)

...I try not to blame other people for my mistake, but instead look for where I went wrong so I don't do the same thing again. And not just where I went wrong, but really, what is the root cause of the mistake? Am I spread too thin? Am I not paying enough attention? Am I giving someone too much leeway? Do I know enough about the surrounding issues, or do I need to educate myself more?

...I try not to blame myself, which is infinitely harder than not blaming someone else. I'm supposed to be better than mistakes. I pride myself on doing my job exceptionally well, so when I make mistakes, I have a desperately hard time not taking them personally.

...I try to make sure the solution doesn't just pawn the problem off on someone else, but instead, I try to fix my own mistakes. Maybe it's penance for making the mistake in the first place.

...when appropriate, I try to put things in perspective. I ask myself, is someone going to die from this mistake? If the answer is no, I try to not let it get me down as bad.

When others make mistakes around me, I like to remind them of the lessons from the book, "The Up Side of Down" by Megan McArdle and the TED talk "On Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schulz that I've linked to before, both about the value of failure, and how we learn from our mistakes more than we learn from our successes. 

When I make a mistake, all that goes totally out the window, and I beat myself liberally about the head and shoulders. There's lots of "I try"s in those statements above, because the truth of the matter is that I rant and throw temper tantrums laced liberally with foul-languaged invectives against the system, myself and the world around me when I make mistakes. And then I try to find solutions. Maybe one day I'll get over ranting before fixing, but I'm not there yet.

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

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