What’s the worst business or job related decision you ever made?
If you hesitate and can’t think of the answer right away, then here’s some advice: figure it out fast. Be completely honest with yourself.
Not understanding your poor decisions results in repeating them. You might repeat them even if you fully understand them, but you’ll at least have a chance of avoiding them if you are honest with yourself.
I like using the who, what, where, when, and why process. The who is obvious (it’s you, because you made the mistake). The what is a little tougher because, if you’re like me, you have a long list of mistakes to choose from. The where and when will give you context — was this out of my area of expertise, was it a good decision at the wrong time, etc.
The best question, and the toughest, is why you made the mistake. The answer will get to the core of your self-identity, your weaknesses, and your values. Since we’re dealing with failure, it can be uncomfortable. But if you want to grow and learn from your mistakes, you have to be brutally honest with yourself.
You might be asking, “Okay Goble, then explain the who, what, where, when, and why of YOUR biggest business mistake!”
Fair question, but I’m not going to give you the details. Too many people were involved, each with their own viewpoint. However, I will tell you that at the core of the mistake was falling in love with an investment instead of using my analytical skills. But it’s not a story best shared via a blog or email. Maybe over coffee sometime.
Now you might be thinking, “Gee, tell us something we don’t already know, Goble.” And yes, I agree that understanding your mistakes sounds like basic advice. But most people don’t delve deep into their mistakes and understand that it’s more than just competency lapses — it’s your motivations, your temptations, your ambitions, and your blind spots all rolled into one. If you need help, ask a partner or spouse or friend. If you can trust them and value their wisdom, they can be a huge help.
Anyway, figure out your biggest mistake. Doesn’t matter what you do for a living: businessperson, teacher, pastor, nurse, artist, truck driver, or anything else. You’ll be better — and the world will be better — if you take the time to reflect and learn.