Nigel Collin explores how making mistakes will help you grow, outpace your competitors and do better events.

Let’s face it none of us like making mistakes or stuffing up. Being human most of us cringe at the idea of owning up to our blunders, both minor and major. But if you’re breathing and you work in business events then they are going to happen. Get used to it, you are going to stuff up because it’s part of the deal. And although it’s not smart to go out of your way to make mistakes, every time you do there is either an opportunity to learn or there are new opportunities and ideas to exploit.

Providing of course you are brave enough to own up to making them in the first place and are willing to learn from them. Our industry is laced with war stories of
failures that no one ever talks about and as a result lessons are lost.

Part of the problem of course is the fear of losing money, or losing clients, or losing your job, but if you are going to make mistakes (and you are) then you might as well learn from them.

But what if you documented what you learned each time you made a mistake or failed at something? You would be amazed at what you see. And what if you then documented the return on those lessons? You will also be very surprised.

So let’s be honest about stuffing up and put in place some mechanisms to benefit from them.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

Own your mistakes
It is very easy not to own up to mistakes, especially when you make them. And it may not be easy for your team to own up to their mistakes either. It’s easy to sweep a failure under the rug or stick your head in the proverbial bucket of sand. But obviously that does no one any good. Know this… if you breathe you will make mistakes so you might as well own them and learn from them.

Get Curious
Unless you get curious about why something went wrong you will never learn from your mistakes and, as a result, benefit from them. So when things do go wrong you need to ask such questions as ‘why did they go wrong?’ ‘What could I have done differently?’ ‘What did I miss?’ ‘Who can help me correct it?’. Don’t get upset when things go wrong, get curious. And give your people permission to get curious as well.

Treat mistakes as you would formal education
Successful people and organisations, in all fields, are very good at constantly learning new things. Like others you may regularly enroll in seminars, courses, read business books, or learn from mentors. If you are to benefit from your mistakes, then why not treat failure as part of your business education.

The lessons, the knowledge, the ideas and the experience gained are worth as much if not more than a formal business education. Nothing teaches you faster, more effectively and more honestly than when you stuff things up, if you are brave enough and open enough to learn.