The Mistake Formula

The emotional and social impact on you from your mistakes is a constant. It is divided out over the total number of mistakes that are publicly visible.

In other words, you’re going to be embarrassed by a mistake sometimes. You will be embarrassed more if mistakes are rare. So, just make a bunch of them.

You already do! But you hide them more than you have to. You cover for them. You excuse them. You avoid them or deny them. What you should do is plaster them all over town.

Assuming your mistakes were made during a good-faith effort to do good work, the witch hunt you’re expecting generally never manifests. And as I often tell my children, the worst impact of a mistake is the erosion of trust that comes from trying to cover it up.

So don’t. Put your mistakes front and center. Make them the first thing you show. People will wonder what you could possibly be working on that even gives you the opportunity to make so many; after all, it’s easy to make no mistakes if you do nothing at all. Let people be surprised and delighted when they find all the good you do. Because you do, and they will.

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