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Friday, October 16, 2009

What do you do when you make a mistake?

Maybe this seems like a weird question, but I really want to know. What do you do when you make a mistake?
  1. Do you cover it up? Do you build elaborate stories and make up tales or lie to ensure no one knows you messed up? Do you blame someone else, especially if they will never know?
  2. Do you wait to see what will happen? It's not that that you will lie or anything, but maybe no one will notice. Maybe everybody else has so much stuff going on that they just let the mistake go and keep on moving. If people do notice, you can admit the mistake then.
  3. Do you act like someone else made that mistake? Do you act like you are as surprised or outraged as anybody else? "Who did that?" "How could that happen?" Then you just wait for things to blow over, admitting nothing, and then go on about your life.
  4. Do you admit your mistake proactively, before it becomes known? You know you messed up and the mistake could have an adverse impact on your business and on other people. You stand up and say, "that was me, I did it".
I suspect that there are a few people who "live" in one of these worlds with regard to mistakes and will rarely deviate. I also suspect that the rest of us have moved in and out of more than one of these worlds at one time or another. While I bet most of us were taught to handle mistakes like #4, is that the smart thing to do? Is that one of those options when you can be right and dumb and the same time?

What do you think?

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