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5 Reasons You Need To Make Mistakes To Be Successful - The Military CEO

5 Reasons You Need To Make Mistakes To Be Successful

Leadership is all about setting examples, developing yourself and those around you. Dealing with the insecurities we have is one of the most important steps when leading people around us. Once you have learnt to accept that people make mistakes and that making one doesn’t undermine your competency then you can really start to succeed as an individual and within a team.

One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.

-Richard Branson

This article will outline 5 reasons you need to make mistakes to be successful!

1. Creating an innovative and honest environment

When you make a mistake don’t try and cover it up, don’t even just deal with it, announce it! When those around you can see that messing up isn’t going to cost them their pride, or worse their job, people will start to be honest with their mistakes. Honest team members not only leads to better what we call in the Army damage limitation but people won’t be as afraid to push themselves.

Previously when i’ve allowed people to take risks without the fear of reprisal i’ve been astounded with the results my team have produced. For a business to succeed it needs a team of thinkers, not robots!

2. Everyone else can learn from your mistakes

Lets say a mistake costs you a deadline, a client or a load of money. Try and see that mistake as an opportunity to get everyone together, explain the mistake and work out a way to prevent it happening again. This could save your business a lot of money and associates a positive outcome from an otherwise negative action.

After every mission in the British Army we have something called an After Action Review (AAR). These present opportunities for the whole team to learn what worked well and what didn’t. The findings should always be recorded and slowly your business will develop a set of procedures referred to in the Army as doctrine.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

3. Failure fuels your ambition

Who was the last millionaire you’ve heard of that hasn’t had hiccups along the way? You’ll be hard pushed to find a successful person who hasn’t suffered knock backs and that’s for a very good reason. We all know what failure feels like, it sucks, so nothing is a better motivation than that disappointment. When you’ve been close to the precipice of failure you know what it looks like and suddenly realise how much you’re going to try to avoid it.

4. A leader needs to be a people person

For people to respect you and subsequently want to be lead by you, you need to be human. To an employee the CEO can be some godly figure not subject to the ordinary laws of life. Don’t start to believe it! When (not if) you make a mistake and you admit it, you humble yourself. Being humble allows those around you to perceive your human nature. Subsequently you’ve just allowed your team members to aspire to be in a position such as yours. Employee success is the key to business success. I’ll soon be releasing a post explaining why you shouldn’t fear ambitious employees, they’re not coming for your job!

5. No one got rich without taking risks

Whether you’re thinking about expanding the business, adopting a new strategy or pursuing a niche in the market you’re taking a risk. But in every case there is the potential for great rewards.

It’s important to distinguish between a risk and a gamble. A risk is a calculated decision informed by sound predictions, a gamble can be made without any information. In the Army we judge risk by the probability of something happening vs the consequence of it happening.

Ultimately however without taking risks you’ll just continue to tread water until you become irrelevant. Once you have come to terms with the fact you might make a mistake if you take a risk, and be comfortable with failure, you can start to take more risks.

Have your say

When was the last time you saw a boss or colleague make a mistake and it be dealt with in a way that you thought was either detrimental or positive to the team cohesion? Let us know in the comments below or on Your Thoughts – as always i’ll try and reply and may even elaborate on your story in a further article.

-The Military CEO


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  1. I’m always surprised to learn that most people are afraid of failing so they don’t try new things to avoid that. Failing is good and you made great points.

    • TheMilitaryCEO

      I couldn’t agree more! The fear of failing is normally due to what you think your boss might say/do about it rather than the actual consequence of your action. In the Army we can’t afford for people not to take risks – it’s what the job is! So here I can see the huge benefits of developing a team that embraces risk sensibly and can see the positive in failure.

      -The Military CEO

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