You – and your team – are better because of your mistakes. Mistakes – and the messages we take away from those experiences – is valuable feedback that propels us forward as we grow and learn as people. The problem is all too often, we find ourselves hiding our flaws from others. But veiling or denying our missteps doesn’t serve us well. A false mask of perfection is nearly impossible to maintain, and almost always something others can see through.
That mask of perfection creates distrust… and distrust inspires doubts and distance. Distance prevents us from creating the connections we need to be effective leaders and collaborators.
That may hurt, and those mistakes, are precisely what make you and your team stronger, wiser, and better.
Does Showing Vulnerability Make Us Weak?
What we gain from taking the risk of being hurt and caring enough to forge deeper connections is the joy those connections might offer. When we encourage our teammates to give exceptional effort and accept new challenges – even at the risk of making mistakes – we offer them the opportunity to feel the pride that growth might offer.
Mistakes equip us to lead and connect, and to navigate future relationships and opportunities successfully.
Finding Strength in the Beauty of Our Flaws
When experiences cause people to break or crack, often what results from the repaired pieces and the mended fractures is a stronger and more beautiful creation than first existed. The ancient Japanese art form known as Kintsugi (or “golden joinery”) illustrates this idea.
As described in My Modern Met, “This repair method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life.”
If proper care and quality materials are used, the repaired piece is more interesting and stronger piece than the original. The key is to find beauty in the scars.
Smart team leaders and winning teammates help others see their past failures and view them as valuable reminders of lessons, insights and sources of inspiration. Team building experiences can help individuals develop an awareness of others’ strengths, and provide safety in relationships that encourage growth.
Unfortunately, we often convince ourselves that scars are unattractive. We seem to accept the idea that imperfection and repair are signs of weakness. But weakness, if you are honest about your own journey, was in your inexperience and lack of understanding.
Kintsugi is the art of seeing beauty in the scars and repaired flaws that the experience produced.
Embracing the Philosophy of Kintsugi in Your Company Culture
An IBM employee had the unfortunate experience of making a mistake that cost the company $600,000. Former IBM CEO John Watson was asked if the employee would be fired. Watson remarked: “No… I just spent $600,000 training him – why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”
Legendary basketball Coach John Wooden said, “If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s longtime motto for his team was to “Move Fast and Break Things.”
Great employees – Winning Teammates – are going to make mistakes. Encourage them to be doers – even if the initial results are not perfect the first time around. As long as they learn from them and grow and benefit from that experience, then we should celebrate it.
How can you celebrate the growth lessons and improved awareness mistakes – and proper repairs – will undoubtedly benefit your team in the long run? How can you give others permission to see their scars as evidence of ambitious activity and attractive reminders of growth and strength that trump the perfection and inexperience of a novice?
You can start by setting the proper example for your team. Tell stories about the cracks and broken places and meaningful repairs your past has provided. By sharing your personal growth stories, you offer your team a safe environment to grow, learn and move past their mistakes and discover the gift of the lessons those scars provided.
Mistakes you overcome and learn from provide knowledge and wisdom that is a true competitive advantage over people who always play it safe.
Do you see mistakes as a competitive advantage? Do you see them as attractive illustrations of activity?
I’d love to hear your comments…