If you are a typical entrepreneur you will make mistakes. Shock Horror! Yes, it happens. You see, there is almost nothing you can do in life without making mistakes – at least if you are doing it for the first time. And even then – people are humans not robots. And humans make mistakes. Sometimes tiny, sometimes humungous – but it IS part of being human.
Think about it.
When you learned to walk, did you fall over once or twice? When you learned to talk, did you get words wrong and have them go down as cute memories in your family history? (My daughter used to call our room at the back a Suncurvatory – rather than a conservatory. I think I prefer it!).
When you learnt to ride a bike or roller skate did you ever fall off? When you first cooked a dish – did it go perfectly every time or did the cake sometimes not rise, or the meal have too much salt or too little taste?
Did you ever go out with the wrong person? Lose your way on the drive home? Stall the car? Forget something at the shops? Leave an item of clothing on public transport? Swear in front of your kids or your Mum?
Of course!! It’s perfectly natural.
So why are we so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes in business? What – is that the ONE area of life where we are never supposed to make a mistake? Who told you that horseshit?
In my 18 years as an entrepreneur, I have made thousands of mistakes. And sometimes – a lot in the early days – I would beat myself up about it. I always hold myself to a higher standard than I expect any normal reasonable human being to attain (Clearly I used to think I was superwoman).
And – without being ‘genderist’, my experience is that this is a trait much more common in female than male entrepreneurs. You can often find yourself focusing on the 5 things you DIDN’T do today and not the 324 things you DID achieve. You can agonise over something you said to an employee/client/supplier – that they probably didn’t give a second thought to. And you can hear yourself saying – Why have I not achieved X today/by now/yet.
Of course, I am not saying you should ignore your mistakes. That’s kind of necessary for learning. If you don’t make mistakes, how do you know how to make things better. Anyone can make a mistake once. It’s if you don’t learn from it that it becomes a problem.
One thing that helps is to actually focus on what went well.
When I began my first business back in 2001, it was essential that the business worked and worked QUICKLY. Why? that’s a story for another day. But just take it from me – it had to work. And so I bought a big A4 page a day diary and every day I ruled a line half way down. At the top I wrote a list of the thing I wanted to achieve that day. And at the bottom, every night without fail, I wrote every single thing that went well.
2 things happened. First – I was able to see very clearly in black and white what WAS working, and do more of it. I could see that if I made 10 calls (where I got through to the right person) I would get 5 appointments and gain 3-4 clients. For example. So rinse and repeat.
The other thing that happened was my confidence grew. I felt good about myself and what I was doing. I felt like I knew how to make it continue to happen.
And when I made a mistake what did I do? Well I thought about it for a while and then…….I did NOT write it down. I only wrote down what I wanted and what I achieved. It is true that you get more of what you focus on.
So my tip for getting the best out of next month, next week, tomorrow….write down every single thing that goes well. Focus on that – and give yourself a break!