Mistakes & learning from them

Learning from your mistakes

Do you kick yourself when you make mistakes, or do you regard them as a valuable opportunity to learn? Sometimes the value of what you learned from a mistake can be much greater than the financial damage done by the mistake. But, the value of what you can learn from a mistake is directly tied to how much thought you put into thinking about the mistake, and how you can avoid similar mistakes in the future.

A lot of mistakes that I have made were due to a lack of experience in seeing the signs of people’s behavior. I worked with someone who started out being a little bit sloppy. Since my other programmers were also somewhat sloppy, I felt like I had no choice, but to work with people who were sloppy. But, the sloppiness got much worst over time. The types of errors became more and more serious. It got to the point where we had scheduled a server migration when the site still had bugs in it. Then, after a migration of another site, the logout feature was actually broken for a few days which was a huge security risk. So, what should I learn from all of this? It is difficult to interpret if you start looking at the situation from months back. But, it seems very easy to interpret now.

If you hire someone who starts out doing something sloppy, this is really dangerous. Generally, when you start someone out, you are watching them closely and not giving them critical work. But, after you get comfortable with them, then you are in danger. Comfort is dangerous and the worst mistakes I have made in business were when I got comfortable with someone who I shouldn’t have had. The innocent mistakes on things that didn’t matter — down the road translated into dangerous mistakes that risked the integrity of my data on two occasions down the road. My mistake was that I overlooked an obvious sign.

From now on, when I see behavior which is sloppy, angry, questionable, slow, or unacceptable in any other way, I will stop working with that person if the bad behavior is the norm. I can accept 80% good work/attitude and 20% mediocre work/attitude from someone. But, that is as far as I will compromise. When it becomes 60-40 that doesn’t work. Here’s why. If you get to a point in the project where they make more mistakes than good work — and that ratio continues for more than a month, the staff member will not be able to endure your criticism. So remember, that 60% good work doesn’t cut it, because in a bad month it will become 30% good work which means endless unbearable criticism, and the worker will get fired during the bad month. If you start with 80% good work, then in a bad month, the majority of the work will still be good, and on a good month it will be nearly perfect. If you can find 100%, then take it, but if you are offered 80% — that is not bad.

I worked with someone else who avoided me, and was rarely around to answer calls. Since I knew her for years, she was within my comfort zone. She got worse and worse and my project ended up being the endless project from hell. I learned my lesson.

Don’t hire someone mediocre you are comfortable with — hire someone who will get the job done no matter how hard they are to find!

I learned from my mistakes. I hope you learn from your mistakes too! Remember — it is not bad to make mistakes, it is only bad not to learn from your mistakes. If you are really lucky you will learn from OTHER people’s mistakes!

(1) Failure is more important than #success in terms of what you learn from it.
(2) Do you kick yourself when you make mistakes, or do you regard them as a valuable opportunity to learn?
(3) I made many mistakes in business from not being able to read people’s behavior.
(4) People start off w/their best behavior when you 1st meet them.
If their best behavior is sloppiness, you’re in big trouble!
(5) When you start someone out, give them non-critical tasks & watch them closely

(6) Comfort is the most dangerous feeling you can have in business.
If you are too comfortable with someone, you let down your guard.
(7) If I see behavior which is sloppy, angry, questionable, slow or unacceptable in any way, I will cut my losses.
(8) If someone at an #outsourcing company is avoiding you, avoid them back & find a better

You might also like:

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully — so should you!

What are your work standards? When do you fire substandard workers?

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