You might not know this unless you follow me on Facebook, but my wife and I recently moved to Spain. As part of that move, I’ve started to learn Spanish – 4hrs of lessons per week, and in my last lesson my Spanish teacher said something to me that really resonated and that I think should be part of everyone’s approach to personal development.
She said to me, try to “mistake it time you make it“.
Now what she meant was if you’re not sure just say the word anyway, what have you got to lose, and people will actually appreciate you trying even if it’s wrong.
And I thought what an excellent sentiment.
Too often we hear fake it til you make, but for me whilst it sounds like good advice, it has too many negative connotations. For starters, nobody wants to be seen to be a fake, and second faking it doesn’t really sound developmental or even if there is any desire to get better.
Mistakes are foundational to any new or bigger success. The reality is nothing worth achieving is ever realized in the first attempt. Don’t believe me just ask James Dyson who created over 5000 prototypes of the cyclone ag free vacuum cleaner before he created the first successful model.
We must not fear mistakes, and definitely, we shouldn’t punish them as this stifles creativity and innovation.
Now, of course, we’re not talking about deliberate or wilful mistakes here, those should still not be tolerated. But when we are looking to push performance achieve new goals or try things we have never tried before, then mistakes are going to be part of the journey.
In fact, I would go so far as to say they should be embraced, and we should look to encourage a culture of mistake it til you make it.
This is not about lowering standards or accepting mediocracy, it’s about promoting innovation, creativity, and a little risk-taking, calculated risks at least.
I can attest that using this approach to learning Spanish has gotten me into much bigger conversations than I would have thought possible. Yes, I might make mistakes, but the benefits are clear and my advancement is much more rapid than if I just played it safe. Plus I actually get it right many times and that helps build confidence, and when I do get it wrong people smile and correct me.
As leaders this is where we want our teams, feeling empowered, creative, and looking to move things forward with confidence. Confident that they will get to achieve their goal, and confident that any setbacks won’t be career-limiting or worse.