Are you making enough mistakes?

Every Friday, we have a weekly-review-plus-chill call at emdash. In one of our calls, an intern told me that she doesn’t like making mistakes — so much so that she puts in a lot of work up front to stop herself from making mistakes.

While it’s a good idea not to make mistakes (duh!), fear of making mistakes often stops people from trying new things. And therefore making great progress.

This is where we need to define the ‘mistake’. I’m not talking about grammatical errors, or misaligned designs or just shoddy work. I’m talking about unexpected outcomes of taking risks, being ambitious and adventurous, daring to go big.

For instance, one of my biggest mistakes was hiring a team when I wasn’t ready to be a manager. It was a mistake that didn’t affect just me, but also the people I’d hired. While I regret not having done well, I must also admit that if I hadn’t made the mistake, I wouldn’t have learned I was a terrible manager.

The next mistake I made — on realising I’m a terrible manager — was to delegate it. When that turned out to be a horrific cop out, I tried coaching. I found myself a coach who will help articulate my goals and fix my misdemeanours. With sides of management books and small business podcasts, I’ve made reasonable progress. It’s working pretty well (if I may say so myself).

Over the course of the last 10-12 years, I’ve had the privilege of making many such mistakes — over-charging, under-charging, speaking my mind, not speaking up when needed, trusting certain kinds of people, not learning certain skills.

There is no learning without mistakes.

So let me ask you again: Are you making enough mistakes?