What is your fear? Is it fear of…
Answers will vary but one of my biggest fears is making mistakes. However, despite this fear of mistakes, throughout several Co-op work terms over the last couple of years, I have had my share of experience making them.
It’s rarely a pretty scene when you make a mistake. But one thing I learned is how to accept the fact that, in a new position or industry, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s not an excuse, but rather the reality of working in a new environment. Sometimes mistakes might be magnified depending on the situation; there will also be times mistakes are taken care of without much disruption. Something horrible might happen if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time and the whole company might know what you did wrong. If that has happened to you before, don’t despair. Like most people, I have done something horribly wrong before as well.
During my international Co-op in Hong Kong, my biggest mistake was signing off a parcel containing travel documentations for a media group from Russia. They were staying at the hotel and our public relations department was to provide them with the necessary documents to travel back home. However, the parcel never arrived back to my supervisor. The Russian group could not go home. I misplaced the parcel. The team flipped the office upside down but could not find the documents.
A simple human error turned into a disaster that cost the company thousands of dollars and intangible acclamation. The hotel manager became involved in this situation as well as the general manager and several directors. I felt largely responsible and guilty for the wrongdoings. I was only an intern. How can I make such a mistake? It was hard to accept. I had a tough time motivating myself to work. I wasn’t happy. I blamed myself for not directly handing the documents to my supervisor. I questioned my inability to be a positive contributor. I really Bunkoed this one.
After receiving an official warning, I took time to reflect. I gave myself time and room to breathe. Work continued and instead of staying for extra hours, I took time to travel and explore the city. I became happier, and the single most efficient way to increase productivity is to be happy at work. While that came externally, I was able to bring my outgoing and energetic personality to work – something that was absent during the ordeal with the parcel.
Yes, I made an astronomic mistake. But I accepted it and moved forward.
Whenever you make a mistake, the first step to moving forward is to admit it. You might be tempted to duck and pass the blame to others, or to try to hide the mistake altogether. Though it may seem like the easy way out, you’re really just making things harder for everyone. Admitting mistakes and learning to deal with them appropriately is an important, though sometimes painful, lesson.
“Often times, many people spend their time avoiding mistakes. They’re so concerned about being wrong, about messing up, that they never try anything – which means they never do anything. Focus is targeted at avoiding failure. But that’s a poor way to achieve success. Instead, the most successful people make spectacular mistakes – big screw-ups! They’re trying to do something big, but each time they make a mistake, they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence.” (Pink, 2008)
Just like Bunko, I will strive to let my creativity fly and learn from my mistakes. Whether or not I make more mistakes in the future, I have a goal and I’ll stick to it.
What is your fear? Have you made mistakes that have left you wondering what you could have done better? Share with us in the comment section below. Don’t forget, Career Services is open to advising to all SFU students and recent alumni. If you would like to make an appointment, contact us.