Why Don’t We Celebrate Mistakes?

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I attended a meeting held in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week at the Youth Services of Tulsa offices.   This is a nonprofit organization that works with at risk, troubled, and delinquent youth.  Some of the kids they work with have been in and out of the state’s juvenile justice system for years.  The Executive Director David Grewe said something I thought was remarkable given the context:

            “Mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth

Looking at their website later, it made more sense when I read the organization’s Vision Statement “Empowered Youth Who Grow and Achieve” and their Mission Statement “To value and accept all youth, supporting and challenging them to embrace their potential.”

This is a blog about growing businesses, so why am I talking about troubled youth?  In my experience, people are afraid to take risk because they have been taught that to do so means they will make mistakes and be punished for them.  This is incredibly true in the business world.

I think many employees live in fear of potential negative consequences if they try things that don’t work out.  So, they don’t try them.  This creates tremendous obstacles for the success of any growing business especially in the insurance industry where our people are the best assets we have.

What if a business adopted David Grewe’s attitude about mistakes?  Would they happen?  Of course they would!  But, if people felt empowered to take risks, perhaps they would feel, as Grewe wants the youth in his care to feel, “challenged…to embrace their potential.”  People who are challenged and encouraged to try can accomplish amazing things!  One way for us as business owners to empower our team members is to create an environment in which mistakes are not punished.  If we can go so far as to actually celebrate them, imagine the result as people reach for their potential and drive the business forward.

I had the opportunity to listen to a remarkable young woman tell her story during my visit to Youth Services last week.  It was one of taking risk to improve herself and the success she was having in life as a result.  I found it inspirational.  What can you do, in your business, to create growth opportunities for your employees by freeing them from the fear of mistakes?  Perhaps recognizing them and celebrating them as “opportunities for learning and growth” would do it.  What do you think?

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