Leap Year Lesson #203: Help Others Learn From Your Mistakes

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Learning
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We are eager to share our successes.  We feel good about them – even a little healthy pride, perhaps.  We want others to know what we’ve done well.  We like being lifted up as a model of best practices.  The accolades make us feel good and the lessons teach others something about how to succeed.

That’s all fine and good, but I think there is great value in sharing what we’ve done wrong as well.  After all, we learn just as much – perhaps more – from those times of failure about what not to do than from the successes that, truth be told, we sometimes luckily stumble into.

To that end, I enjoyed being interviewed today on a conference call with a large tech company.  They had about 75 sales associates gathered for a day of training at their offices in San Francisco.  It is a company I know well through my association with them at work.  My primary contact there had asked me for permission to interview me live during their training for about 45 minutes.  I agreed and knew ahead of time what the questions would be.

While we had questions geared toward what we have done well in recent years related to this company’s product, where I felt I probably gave them a slightly different angle than others interviewed was in the honesty with which I shared where we did things poorly along the way.  Those lessons are just as strong in my mind when it comes to giving advice to others about what to do and not do.

I’ll have another opportunity in late August when I speak at a large conference where I am building into the presentation not just a “Best practices” section but also a “Worst practices” section that plainly states what we did wrong and that I advise against.  I suspect it will be appreciated as an honest attempt to help others avoid mistakes.

In a nutshell, be honest, be transparent, share all learning experiences – good and bad – and value leap year lesson #203 – Help others learn from your mistakes.  That applies, by the way, not just in a work setting, but in our personal lives in what we pass on to others.

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