Leap Year Lesson #238: Help Others Learn From Your Mistakes

Posted: September 1, 2012 in Learning
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I spoke at the VMworld 2012 conference twice this week, once on my own and again as part of a three-person panel discussion.  It was a great opportunity to share experiences regarding management of enterprise social networks with others interested in starting or growing such communities in their businesses.

For me, it was important to share not just those things we have done well at my company in this regard, but to share a couple of tough lessons learned from what we didn’t do well.  After all, if one of the goals of the sessions is to truly help others on their journey of establishing or growing such communities, it is important to be transparent and guide them in ways that help them avoid making the same mistakes we did.

I am always amazed and a bit saddened when such transparency is met with surprise.  I heard comments like “That’s really nice of you to share what you didn’t do well.  Not everyone is willing to do that.”  I guess I’m just honest enough to not think twice about doing so.  I wish more – especially in the corporate world – also felt the same.

How much more helpful would advice from a mentor, colleague or manager be if it included what not to do based on experience as well as what to do?  In matters of personal growth, wouldn’t children benefit from knowing their parents’ mistakes as well as their successes?  Wouldn’t public leadership in government and other organizations seem a little more human and easy to relate to if we knew the struggles and foibles of leaders and not just a filtered, whitewashed persona approved by press secretaries and public affairs professionals?

We can use a little more honesty, transparency and humanness in our communication with others.  Therefore, leap year lesson #238 is Help others learn from your mistakes.

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