Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I messed up

You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have made a mistake? And then, it sinks a few more inches when you realise that it is not the kind of mistake that you can cover up without anyone noticing? And then it sinks even further when you realise how many people will be affected. And then you have to tell the boss that you messed up. It reminds me a bit of those "you had one job memes"

Today happened to be one of those days where I messed up. I am still not sure about the how it happened part. I just did. Of course today's mistake had the potential of affecting more than 200 students and all their teachers. So on the scale of mistakes, not small, but fortunately not enormous either. 
However, there are some very crucial lessons that I was reminded of today thanks to this mistake. Here is the list:
  1. Stay calm. Getting wound up and over emotional clouds your judgement and your ability to problem solve.
  2. Prototype rapidly. The faster you start testing out mini solutions, the faster the problem is solved.
  3. Admit your mistake. Publicly. People will not know how or where to help, unless they know that something has gone wrong.
  4. Be the one to step up and help someone who has made a mistake. Your help makes all the difference. (A particular shoutout to the fabulous Taheretikitiki community for this one today, thank you).
  5. Show your gratitude for those who stepped up. 
  6. Be open to feedback, critique and sometimes, even criticism. Without it, you will take much longer to realise your mistake. Listening might mean you avoid the mistake all together.  
  7. Learn from your mistake. Take notes to make sure that you do not make the same mistake again.
  8. Before your new learning slips out of mind and your notes out of sight, have another go to implement or practice your new learning.

These are my 'rapid prototypes' from today - a spreadsheet for every new idea to try and solve the problem.
No question about it, making mistakes are not necessarily fun, and sometimes rather painful. However, there is much to learn from our mistakes, so maybe, they aren't so bad after all.