The Art of Making Mistakes

I’m sure you’ve all seen the “best picture” snafu at the 2017 Oscars. And if you didn’t see it live, there is a good chance you saw it on social media (like me). The short of it is, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner of best picture, when in reality Moonlight took home the prize. Yes, it even progressed as far as the cast and crew of La La Land taking to the stage to claim their award. Awkward.

So a major mistake was made.

The takeaway from all of this: mistakes happen. Throughout your career, you, your team or your colleagues will be responsible for more than one mistake. However, it is how you own the mistakes and resolve the issues that will make you a better employee and colleague.

So what can we learn from this Oscar debacle? First we have Warren Beatty, who, after understanding what went wrong and the rightful winners were called to the stage, stepped forward and explained how things had gone down this incorrect path. It seems he was given the wrong card, but instead of pointing fingers and throwing out blame he shared his insight with the audience, apologized, made a small joke and moved forward. Later in the week PwC also took responsibility for their error and released an apology for the card mix-up.

Acknowledge your Mistakes

Yes, things go wrong. You may forget to add an attachment to an email or show up a half hour late to a meeting because it wasn’t in your diary. But instead of trying to manufacture the best excuse, or blaming someone else, acknowledge that you were at fault, apologize and carry on with your day. More often than not, people appreciate the honesty. Moreover, it shows a certain degree of strength and confidence that will go a long way in the workplace.

So own your slip-up; then move on.

The Oscar incident also taught us the importance of supporting your peers. You may not always get the recognition you hoped for, but it doesn’t always mean the other party didn’t equally deserve it. Although their moment in the spotlight was short-lived, the directors and producers of La La Land were “happy to hand over” their award to the Moonlight winners. And we believed it. They genuinely respected the work their peers had done and believed the Moonlight cast and crew deserved the win. This humbleness worked in the La La Land team’s favor, as the millions of viewers appreciated their graceful bow down.

So the next time you put together an amazing proposal, pitch or presentation but someone else gets the acknowledgment, be patient. Your time will come and someone in the wider audience is  surely noticing your dedication.

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