Is There a Difference Between an Experience and a Mistake?

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You’re not alone. No one likes to make mistakes; in fact, most of us spend a significant portion of our lives trying to prevent that very thing. We go to great lengths to avoid even admitting to messing up. What if I told you that all experience, even failure, is good for your business? Though making an error is frustrating, each provides an opportunity to grow and learn because everything is about creating an experience, including mistakes.

But …. We Really Hate Mistakes

Mistakes often feel dangerous, and they can be, and in the past, often were. But in the modern world, errors make people feel vulnerable, exposed, and at times, ignorant or stupid. We may think that we will be judged for our blunder, and while some people might do so, those are usually the ones that you can ignore. And for many, mistakes may cause life to feel chaotic or out of order. All these are normal and a part of life and business, no matter how uncomfortable they are.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

With the constant rate of change, everything is always in flux. Our bodies are ever-changing, the world is changing, even traffic is continually changing. With so much information and challenges thrown our way, everyone is bound to make a mistake. While some consider this a deviation in life, in reality, this is only perfectionism rearing its anxious head.

Adults often loathe failure so much, we make serious efforts to avoid it. The problem with this is that it means playing safe. And that means you don’t progress nearly as much. And if we can’t avoid the error, research shows that we tend to blame failure on external factors, especially when we first realize we’re wrong.

Why Failure is Good

Failure predicts character and success. An interesting study by sociologist Charles Bosk interviewed young doctors to determine the difference between those who were successful and those who were fired or resigned. What the study saw was that the difference was not intelligence and technical factors but their attitude towards failure that most likely predicted their success. By recognizing their mistakes, the doctors used them to identify their weaknesses and improve, thus becoming better.  Failure is also an experience. 

So, What Kind of Experience is your Business Having? How About Your Clients?

When you think about your business, what experience are you currently having? Do your clients see you as traditional and stoic, refusing to modernize or innovate? While this doesn’t mean to completely change your business, it’s worth assessing whether your company plays it safe or looks for ways to get ahead of the market. While clients appreciate loyalty, they also want a company that can remain competitive.

Everything is About the Experience, Even The Mistakes

In today’s world, where competition is fierce with so many choices available, everything is about the experience and how the customer feels at the end of it. By playing it safe, you risk driving the company to average at best. Consumers are wise and have access to a plethora of information quickly and readily available, and are looking to feel engaged and vital to a company. Creating a unique experience is challenging and risky, but worth the customer (and employee) loyalty.

If you make a mistake, be honest with the customer. This does not mean that you need to share every detail of the error, but that you are clear about the issue and how you will resolve it for the customer. It’s expected that companies will misstep at times, but it is the response afterward that can really leave a lasting impact; you want it to be positive and lasting.

Are You Putting Your Business Out There?

Growth involves risk and is required to move forward either personally, or with your company. We’ve all heard of Blockbuster Video and how they refused to recognize a changing market and played it safe. By acting safely, you could be putting your business at even greater risk. As in life, mistakes can help your business grow with a few surprising benefits. It helps the company learn valuable lessons that increase business resilience, clarity, and creativity. With unforeseen challenges arising from mistakes, companies often need to think outside of the box and innovate.

Some of the greatest innovators and businesses have failed and gone on to become successful and iconic businesses. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple before returning years later to grow the company to the success it is today. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for not being creative enough. But it’s not just individuals but companies who fail but learn. Does anyone remember the Microsoft Zune? Or the Amazon Fire Phone? Yet both these organizations are highly successful. All companies make mistakes, it is what they do afterwards that counts most.

How Mistakes Help

Mistakes may be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. While it is obviously best to aim for success, despite our best efforts, sometimes we mess up. By making an effort to learn from the situation, we increase the chances of growth. Reframing reality to make mistakes easier to handle by understanding that errors happen and having an experimental and open mind.

Mistakes can:

  • Reveal a nuance we missed
  • Deepen our knowledge
  • Create awareness of skill gaps
  • Teach about others
  • Remind us to be humble
  • Reveal a new insight
  • Invite us to make better choices
  • Reveal new insights
  • Point us in a new creative direction
  • Remind us of our humanity

The Bottom Line

While few of us enjoy failure, how we react to it can determine how high we can go. Blackberry was at the type of its game and played it safe until it was too late. Mistakes are frustrating and the goal is always to succeed, but realism is important and no company succeeds 100% of the time. Remember to take the time to use the experience to identify any weaknesses and learn from the mistake.

Business is about creating an emotional connection with your customers and this requires honesty, even when in the wrong. By constantly evolving and remaining open-minded to new insights, it proves your value and loyalty to your customers. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, because the worst that could happen is you are left with an experience.

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About the author

Kyle Kalloo is the Chief Executive Officer and Business Coach with Change My Life Coaching, Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and creator of the Get Profitable, Get Productive (GP2) Business Success System.  Through his management training and experience with McDonalds, Famous Players (Paramount) and WestJet, and with the ongoing learning and development he’s completed, Kyle has refined and perfected business success skills. He is eager to share how to execute them efficiently to help individuals and companies achieve even more of their dreams and create lasting change.  83% of Kyle’s business comes from referrals.