As much as we need to be the anti-elephant and have a short-term memory about our mistakes, we can’t hide those errors, either.
Humans are fallible, so mistakes are not only accepted, but expected. However, hiding your mistakes is not acceptable, under any circumstances.
In fact, when we are upfront and honest about our mistakes, good things can happen. We engender trust, and convey a high level of integrity and character for taking personal ownership of not only our successes, but our failures.
I think back to a recent mistake of my own, and I am most definitely living up to it, because here I am – sharing it with the world!
In this case, I could have attempted to “hide” my mistake from my physician-client. But eventually she would have discovered the truth, and what would that have done to our trust? Instead, I was candid about my actions. Now, she has more trust than ever because I was willing to live up to that failure, as painful as it was to admit the fault at the time.
It’s unrealistic to expect we’ll be perfect all the time. Instead of expending your energies to create that illusion of unattainable perfection, own up to your mistakes! Impress your colleagues, bosses, employees, etc. with the courage and integrity that comes with wearing your failures, along with your triumphs. And use that same bravery to devise a new way of approaching said problem that led to the failure in the first place.
A word to you early careerists out there: While it varies widely from organization to organization, generally speaking, a grace period does exist where some leeway is afforded to you that other more senior or tenured employees don’t have. This “honeymoon” period is a great time to establish good habits. Make ownership of your mistakes one of those good habits. Your supervisors and teammates will take notice. You’ll develop in a more accelerated fashion — which brings more opportunities to metaphorically fall a little farther on your face, of course. But the grace you have shown early on when confronted with your own fallibility will position you well to handle both the added responsibilities and risks as your career advances.
So fail well, my friends. And success will be yours.