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  • Writer's pictureYvonne Root

Mistakes are Costly, Coverups are Costlier

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Mistakes are learning tools

Learn. Study. Improve. Grasp. Catch On.

There are numerous ways for us to learn. Making mistakes is one of them. At the bottom rung of the construction contracting mistake ladder we hope to learn to never again do the thing which turned out to be a mistake. Yet, there are more rungs.

Making us think it through.

Training us to not do similar things.

Teaching others to avoid the action.

Enlightening us concerning our skills level.

Revealing something we didn’t understand.

Letting us know some things are a lost cause.

Bringing us to be more compassionate toward others.

Giving us a heads-up concerning other possible actions

Spurring us to want to try new things in this or other areas.

Mistakes – the advantages

Asset. Blessing. Boon. Edge. Distinction.

Making a mistake is not advantageous. Yet, admitting you made a mistake is!

Plus, there are several ways you can use (admitted) mistakes to your advantage.

With your employees, subs, and even your clients you build trust when they see you are human, honest, and gutsy enough to step to the plate.

Certainly, a side effect of the “plate stepping” is you provide the example for risk-taking and open communication in your construction business. Plus, it simply makes you more approachable.

Therefore, admitting mistakes helps offset the negative feelings from those who’ve been affected. Some have had high hopes. Others feel their time has been wasted. Still others may think you’ve purposefully tried to “pull one over” on them. Getting things set straight puts relationships back in order and puts your construction contracting business in a better light.

One of the foremost aspects is it allows for quick correction, which (hello!) saves time and resources. Plus, it allows you the peace to stop defending a difficult or incorrect position.

So, your credibility as a leader is increased. Plus you provide concrete examples which reinforce critical aspects of your company culture: decisiveness, openness, honesty, integrity, and quick correction.

Mistake quotes

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” Theodore Roosevelt 

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.” Stephen Covey 

“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” Alexander Pope

One more mistake quote

“In politics… never retreat, never retract… never admit a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Oh my! We think Mr. Bonaparte may have given some terrible advice. Furthermore, seems two former American presidents listened to him. Both made mistakes. Similarly, both were impeached for their parts in trying to cover up, not for the original mistake.

Made a Mistake? Say so

Acknowledge. Admit. Confess. Disclose. Make Known. Own up.

A few years back we lived in a house which had a house-long porch which cantilevered over the side of the small hill on which the house was built. If you looked straight down over the edge of the porch you could see the pathway which led to other portions of the property. Sounds pretty good, huh? Well the problem was, getting to that walkway was no easy task. The round about way of accessing the steep stairs which led to the path meant we typically only walked on that path when there was a direct purpose for doing so. Now, you have the setup and I’ll get on with the rest of the story.

Most note worthy, the porch was sound, the railings up to code, the danger-level low. Children (or adults for that matter) weren’t likely to go tumbling off. Yet, items – toys, cups, flatware, you-name-it – were easily tossed through the rails and over the side. Yeah, I know, you can already see where this is going. After many discussions with the small man-child who frequently “accidentally” let drop this and that I decided it was time to take more affirmative action.

Sure enough . . . I looked up from my book to see small man-child with his hand stuck through the rails ready to release the next item to the wilds below.

A mistake was about to be made

Therefore, I said his name then said, “If you drop that, I’m going to swat your butt.”

The little fingers let go. The cup plopped to the ground below. The man-child purposely stepped to a space directly in front of me, turned away from me, bent over and in the same motion pulled up his shirt making his tiny behind available for the swat.

Laughter was stifled, and minor swat was given.

So, owning up to your mistakes (and misdeeds) allows you to step forward, often leaving both the mistake and the subsequent consequence behind you.

In case you were wondering – yes, we’ve had to make a few mea culpa pleas. And yes, we’ve gotten better at serving our clients because of it. You can get in touch with us here.

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