The quest for perfection can become one which takes more away from life than adds onto it. Perfectionists become obsessed with achieving perfect results. These results can be related to work tasks, athletics, or even the conversations they get into. The obsession with perfection can increase the pressure under which people operate. If you’re managed by someone who is obsessed with achieving perfect results, your output will never impress, and good results will become mere expectation. This article aims to provide some insight into how to utilize mistakes to relieve the pressure of unrealistic expectations without hurting your reputation in the process.
Every Mistake Should Shine Light on a Lesson Learned
When dealing with high expectations from others, your mistakes will be initially perceived as wasteful. The process of making mistakes is generally a path most try to veer away from. You have the capacity to upset those who hold a stake in the work you’re doing when you make a mistake, and can serve to put a dent in your own reputation. Being a person who consistently makes mistakes, is not an image anyone would want to uphold. However, when expectations are too high, timelines too tight, and the workload unrealistic, the mistakes you make can be used to relieve the pressure that you and others around you are under.
The first step in the process of utilizing your mistakes to your advantage, is ensuring that every mistake carries a lessons with it which others can benefit in learning. In reporting the mistakes you make, you should package them in a way that makes those who listen feel as if they would have made the same mistake if they were in your position. The trick to doing that is not labeling yourself a victim, but is teaching those who listen something they didn’t know prior to you making your mistake. Onlookers, especially if they have stake in your work, should realize how the pressure everyone is under would have affected them in a similar way, and their interest should be piqued by the mistake that you’ve made.
When possible, connect the mistakes you make to the undesirable working conditions (pressure) that not just you, but everyone, is under. It should remind everyone else that humans cannot be expected to be perfect, and your mistake should feel like a breath of fresh air for those who fear deviating from perfection. Especially if you’re in a position of leadership, making a mistake and being open with that fact can relieve pressures your subordinates are under. Rather than allowing the pressure to be perfect to build until more impactful errors are made, allow there to be small mistakes which everybody learns from. Allow people to see imperfection at play, and to realize its role in achieving the perfect result which everybody yearns for.
The Fear of Making Mistakes
The mistakes you, and others, make should be used to eliminate the fear of making mistakes. Mistakes which teach everybody lessons should be encouraged to be brought to light. These mistakes will improve output going forward while lessening the pressures that others are placed under. Even if you’re not in a position of leadership at work or in life, you can serve to relieve the pressure by owning and advertising certain mistakes of yours which humanize the people doing the work at hand.
Though there are people who thrive under intense pressure, the majority of the population maintains a less tolerant relationship with it. These people should be encouraged to perceive mistakes to be opportunities rather than failures. They should come to understand that mistakes are to be expected and are not the end of the world. The end result of transferring this understanding, is hopefully a lowered fear of making mistakes.
Don’t be too casual with your treatment of mistakes, take them seriously – but don’t vilify them either. Mistakes should be mitigated strategically and at once. The perception, rather than the treatment, of the mistakes that come about is what this article is about.
Learning lessons from your mistakes and packaging those lessons for your whole team to understand will eliminate the perception of mistakes being a waste of time. The ones who are under pressure will first sigh a breath of relief in the face of someone else’s mistake (for not making one themselves), and then will be tuned in to learn what went wrong. Do not be afraid to allow others to sigh that breath of relief. Allow others to use your mistakes as examples of humans’ imperfect nature, but make sure you’re not perceived as an example of humans’ tendency to fail. Try to consistently balance the act of relieving the pressures others are under with the productive nature of learning from one’s mistakes.
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