This is a guest post by one of our own Word Chef tribe members, Matthew Turner.
Mistakes have a really bad reputation, and that’s something I hope to change.
I’m not suggesting you make them on purpose, because trust me, you don’t have to — they’ll find you regardless. What I am suggesting is that mistakes aren’t the worst thing ever. Which considering we often get scolded from a young age for making them, is a hard mindset to change.
Regardless, I feel strongly in the positive effect they can have on you, your business, and world in general. This is one of the reasons I started The Successful Mistake: tips, tricks & tales from 250 successful entrepreneurs; a book I hope will help change this negative perception. I’ll offer some information about how you can get involved in this exciting book at the end, but first let me share some stories.
Mistakes…a Catalyst to Success?
I’ve interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs in recent weeks about the biggest errors they’ve made and how they then turned them around. The tales are varied, but the common trait most share is that without the error, success would have been harder to come by. Some are much worse than others, and not all will lead to great things. The point is that a mistake doesn’t have to mean the end so long as you approach it in the right mindset and learn as much as you can.
As with most things in life it’s how you approach something that truly matters.
Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? If you’re the latter then you’ll always struggle with even the slightest of faults, but if you’re the former, it’ll become just another obstacle. Since this blog is basically Tea’s “kitchen,” I thought I’d offer some food related examples.
The Successful Recipe Mistake
Amazingly enough, chefs make mistakes like everyone else. However, not all of these result in a burnt chicken or a flaming counter. Sometimes a new, delicious menu is invented, all because of a silly little faux-pas. Let me demonstrate:
Over one hundred years ago a small eleven-year old-child by the name of Frank Epperson made a drink to quench his thirst. He mixed the water with some soda water, but before he had chance to devour it’s delicious contents, he was distracted by something. The glass, complete with it’s new cocktail and stirring stick still inside, was left outside over night in the chilly San Francisco weather. When he awoke the next morning, he noticed his drink was solid — the cold night forming an ice-like block within the glass. Again, like all good eleven-years-old boys would, he yanked on the stick and proceeded to lick the icy treat. A classic summer serving was born, and when this Frank grew up, he patented it, sold it, and became a very rich man.
In America you call them ‘Chips,’ whereas in England we call them ‘Crisps.’ Whatever name you give it, things could easily have been different. Sometime, over one-hundred-fifty years ago, a disgruntled chef by the name of George Crum was unhappy at a dish being returned to his kitchen. The customer didn’t think his fried potatoes were crisp enough, so the chef decided to slice the potatoes thinner and thinner until they were so thin, so flimsy, that they couldn’t possibly be enjoyed. Oh, and just to make sure it was awful, he doused them in salt. A plan is one thing, but a result is another, and when the customer tasted this new recipe, he sat back in awe at how delicious it was. These days they come in many flavors shapes, and sizes, but how different life could be had that chef not have had a rather large ego.
Stay Calm and Embrace Mistakes
As in the kitchen, the business world is full of mistakes that end up as success. Some are small, others are epic, but all share a common trait of being an obstacle to overcome. The Successful Mistake has taught me that successful people don’t give up, and although it may hurt them, they discover a way to overcome it, learn from it, and move on before it’s too late. You too will make your own faux pas’, and when you do, take a step back and evaluate where you are. It may be scary, and you may not have a lot of time to spare, but there’s ALWAYS some room to reflect and learn.
Evaluate – Learn – Adapt… this is what the people I’ve interviewed have done, and it usually turns out okay.
I’m in love with The Successful Mistake project. I’m learning so much and hearing so many amazing stories, but there’s still a long way to go. As such I invite you to take part and join Tea and dozens of other amazing people in sharing stories that matter. You have a story to share, this I’m sure of! Will you join me?
Photo Credit: Big Stock