Personal Development & Promotion

Learning through mistakes makes you a better employee – and a much more successful one

Some employees can climb the career ladder very quickly, others stay on their current positions for a long time without getting promoted. What are the reasons why some people are more successful than others? A better education, constant training, luck, fate, personality, attitude, professional skills or the relationship with the supervisor? Most likely a little bit of everything. But even if we cannot have a total control of our career, we should concentrate on those aspects that we are really able to influence in our daily work.

To become better in what we are doing is definitely a very good approach towards the own career. The reason is that a supervisor is very likely to delegate projects to those employees who he trusts that they can do the job, to avoid any kind of risks. Consequently employees who can take over more and more challenging or difficult tasks have a higher value for the supervisor (and the company). A result is that their position in the company gets stronger and stronger. The logic is simple. The easier the tasks a person needs to perform, the easier this person can be replaced by someone else. But people with special skills, which they developed over a period of time, cannot be replaced easily. Thus they have a more secure job, they get higher salaries and they also have a much better bargaining power, when it comes to promotions.

It is interesting to observe how some people improve in a very fast way. If you have a look around yourself and look at your colleagues you might see differences in their development speed as well. Why are some people learning faster than others? Not seldom the fast learners are those who are willing to learn from mistakes. They do not like to make those, but once a mistake occurs, they observe it, admit it, make it differently and avoid doing this mistake again in the next similar situation. “Do not be scared of making mistakes, but do not make them twice!” is a famous saying in Germany. This is one of the most powerful ways to improve. But it is not easy for everyone, because one crucial precondition is to be able to admit to oneself that once we made a mistake we are fully responsible for it (and if necessary even to admit it to the own supervisor). This needs some inner strength and courage, and for some people it is not easy, because they learned their whole life to hide own mistakes.

There is a big potential to grow, if someone changes this kind of attitudes and learns to take responsibility for own mistakes. Professional sports people, and especially the world’s top athletes are masters of learning from their mistakes. They accept that they can constantly improve, even if they have already won the biggest tournaments and championships. What they all share, and which can be copied by any “athlete” in a company is a willingness to enter into new experiences. Some people call it a “beginner attitude”, which has the effect to stay focused and humble, never become arrogant, and continually observe the own behavior (including the own mistakes) in order to learn, and learn, and learn…

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