Leadership

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Philanthorpy and self actualization will cease to exist in this world if rain ceases to exist.

Mistakes Are Always In The Past


Udayakumar Nalinasekaren
Dec 21, 2010

RafikiFirst of all we are talking about well meaning leaders in this blog and not about villains and criminals. So we can boldly make the statement that forms the title of the post. Mistakes are different from villainous mischief and intentional crime.

I want to quote a recent Calvin and Hobbes strip I enjoyed (and learnt from it as well). Calvin steals Susie's most loved doll (intentional mischief). Susie is aghast. Calvin sends a ransom note that is properly signed (childish mistake). Susie takes revenge, She takes Hobbes away. Calvin realizes his mistake of underestimating Susie's potential to retaliate.

 

Mistakes happen because we

  • underestimate something or someone
  • are overconfident
  • go through an ego trip that blinds rational and logical thinking
  • were distracted or
  • just committed a mindless act

Once we realize the mistake it is always in the past.

Another inspirational character I will never forget in life is Rafiki from Walt Disney's Lion King. Simba wrongly owns up his father's death (mistake) and is hiding from his pride (another mistake of shirking responsibility). Rafiki is on a mission to bring Simba back to the pride. When Rafiki meets Simba and gets into a conversation Rafiki strikes Simba unexpectedly with his cane. Simba does not duck in time (mistake) and gets hurt. Simba has a lot of respect for Rafiki and continues with the conversation. Rafiki unexpectedly strikes a second time. Simba ducks this time. Rafiki says "See! You can do only two things with your past. You can either run away from it or learn from it!".

When we realize our mistake, we first feel threatened about our hard earned position getting compromised. We feel stupid and feel that others will think low of us. We feel cheated and let down (mostly by ourself). We fear loss of esteem in our society. We fear that the bridges we built so hard with our superiors, peers and other colleagues will vanish. We fear reprimand and punishment. All these are emotional stimulus. The brain tends to trigger a freeze-flight-or-fight response. If we succumb to this mind blinding trigger, we commit more mistakes.

The first step when we realize our mistake is to become aware of all the emotional stimulus that is acting on us. The next step is to realize our responsibility to correct the mistake while there is still an opportunity to do so. The third step is to take a learning from that mistake. The right thing to do then is to stand up and ACCEPT THE MISTAKE gracefully. Once we accept the mistake, there is nothing to lose anymore. It is always possible to act rationally from a nothing to lose position. Accepting mistakes gracefully is a brave act.

This is obviously a bitter pill. Only a bitter pill cures an ailment.


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