Some self reflection on owning up to your mistakes.
A few weeks ago my business partner Jakob mentioned that I have issues with owning up to my failures.
I didn’t have any big fuckups, of course. It’s just the matter of communication when I do something wrong. For example copying the wrong DNS-Entry while migrating a domain to Cloudflare – it’s nothing big, but when Jakob asked me about it and told me it’s wrong, I didn’t say “Sorry, I made a mistake”, I said “DNS changed”.
This resulted in an argument between us, which got me thinking, why I didn’t communicate it better.
🛠️ Over the last few months at mindnow we’ve been hard at work building a content/music platform for a big TelCo and a Ticketing Company – fixing bugs with the team and making sure everything works properly on a very tight schedule.
🤖 When you’re constantly surrounded by problems, your sense of “I made a mistake, I need to apologise” gets dulled and you’re just solving one problem after the next without even thinking how it’s perceived by others. Owning up to mistakes requires you to take a pause, be vulnerable and communicate transparently.
Even then you have thoughts like – I shouldn’t have made a mistake, I did everything right. Loose the perfectionism – shit happens, even the brightest minds do stupid things sometimes, so statistically speaking – you will do stupid things also.
💡 Being transparent requires you to be vulnerable. Admitting mistakes is hard – explaining how you came to be such a dum-dum is harder. But this builds trust over time. You might assume that if you talk about your missteps publicly – people will curse you and condemn and think less of you as a person. That’s wrong.
🧭 If people can see the whole journey up-to the point when everything went wrong, they sympathise with you. I just recently read a post about httpie/httpie library that got taken private and lost their 60K followers on GitHub, just because the author made a simple mistake. And he explained how it ended up being a disaster – people sympathised with him. There’s much support when you take accountability publicly.
🗿 Whenever you do something bad – decouple your feelings from the situation – your EGO might be hurt, your pride bruised, but these are irrelevant in the moment and will do more harm than good. When you’re analysing – assume you’re just debugging a program that has just thrown an error. what happened exactly? why it happened? How can we avoid that in the future? No emotions – only observations.
Making mistakes is natural, get used to them and communicate properly, in the end it’s not just you who’s affected, everyone around you also deserves to know what happened and why.