Learning and Growing - January 14, 2021

All of us have made mistakes from time-to-time. How are you using those mistakes to learn and to grow?

Posted
January 17, 2021
Graphic: Don't erase your mistakes. Learn from them.

Learning and Growing - January 14, 2021

All of us have made mistakes from time-to-time. How are you using those mistakes to learn and to grow?

Posted
January 17, 2021
JFS Friends – 
Earlier in my career when I was starting a role as chief executive for a hospital, I found among the existing leadership team two very talented individuals – both of whom had potential to become great leaders. Each, however, had a area of weakness that needed to be addressed to allow them to reach their full potential. The first was a role model for the culture that I hoped to create in the organization but had some weakness in a technical area. The second was technically proficient but behaved in a way that was not consistent with the culture I wanted to create.

I decided to meet with each of them privately and share with them the following message. I told each of them that I considered them talented, bright and capable leaders, that I hoped that each would continue their careers with our organization and I wanted to be a part of supporting their success. I then identified the area of weakness that I wanted them to address and let them know that I had arranged an executive coach to be available to them to assist in shoring up the area that needed attention. The reactions of each, in retrospect, were quite predictable.

The first individual thanked me for the feedback, told me that she was honored that the organization would invest resources in helping her be successful and enthusiastically embraced the plan. The second individual told me that she would rather quit than address the concern I had shared. I reinforced to her that my goal was for her to stay, that I felt that she had great potential to lead but that in our organization cultural competence was equally important as technical competence. In the end, she left the organization rather than admit to having an area of weakness.

Since that time, I often ask people applying for leadership roles to tell me about a time they made a mistake and what they learned from it. I try to avoid bringing anyone into a leadership role that lacks the ability to admit to a mistake, learn from it, adjust their behavior and grow from the experience.

Henry Ford once said:
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Many individuals and organizations aspire to be innovators. One of the challenges that face innovators is that when you are blazing new trails there are usually not maps to guide you so the risk of veering off course or making a mistake goes up. Those mistakes are not failures if we quickly identify them, learn from them and adjust our behavior based on what we learned.

When embarking on a new project I often will seek out those individuals and organizations that had tried something similar and not had initial success. I find that I can learn a great deal from the challenges they faced and what they did to overcome them. These lessons can help us identify points of vulnerability and build strategies to reduce the risk of repeating those challenges.

All of us have made mistakes from time-to-time. How are you using those mistakes to learn and to grow? Have you shared those experiences with family, friends or colleagues to help them learn and grow from them as well?

Feel free to reach out if you have stories of your own that you want to share or if you want to hear more about some of my mistakes (leave a lot of time – the list is long) and what I learned from them.

"Learn from the mistakes of others. ou can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

Related Resources & News

A central location for you to be empowered with knowledge.