As the title suggests, one of the most important things I learnt during my most recent assignment was not to be afraid to make mistakes.
It is human nature to strive for excellence and most if not all humans want to be seen as important and accepted by our peers, colleagues, friends, family and by the society irrespective of their social status. I think the society and prevailing laws inculcate a notion in us that making a mistake is punishable in some way. Hence, it is natural that one fears making mistakes.
Taking this idea further, I think in the corporate world, we tend to try and make our work immaculate and accurate as much as possible in the first attempt. Why? Because it is natural to think that an inaccuracy or a misunderstanding may cause all the hard work that is put into it to be seen as invalid. But, imagine the amount of time we spend analysing things to the Nth degree, verifying the findings, validating and revalidating?
As a Business analyst, I endeavoured to ensure that I asked all the right questions and documented everything in detail and most accurately in the first attempt. However hard I tried, there was something that I had missed, a question that I didn’t ask, something that the user forgot to mention, etc that made my work incomplete by my standards. Knowing that how hard I try, there is bound to be something wrong or missing in my work really frustrated me and got me thinking what could be the solution.
After much thought and Googling, I came across an article that talked about the failures of Thomas Alva Edison and what he had said about them. It is alleged that he said “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb”. Could Thomas Alva Edison have invented the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb if he was trying to perfect the technique in the first instance? I think probably not.
I adopted the “MacGyver Approach” or making the best out of what is currently available and developing on it without thinking of what can go wrong. It gave me the confidence to complete my work with reduced stress and allowed me to manage my time much better.
I would like to share the following few pointers that helped me in this process:
- If you are not sure of something, support the point with any assumptions that you have made so that you tell the audience what your basis is without leaving them in the dark and leaving room for speculation.
- Try to get a peer to review your work before it is distributed to the wider audience and always encourage constructive criticism.
- Invite others to suggest improvements and be open to suggestions. All suggestions may not be adopted immediately but it is good to keep them for later use.
- Remember the pitfalls and try not to repeat the same mistake. This shows that you take things seriously and helps build others’ confidence in you.
- Try to encourage and help others to embrace the culture of continuous improvement.
One thing to remember in life and at work is that nobody or nothing is perfect in this world. Hence there is no point wasting time trying to make things perfect. What is important is to make the most of what you have.