A Getting It Wrong Plan
I came across a pony-tailed biker-type guy with a long scruffy beard in a cigar shop. He was a retired union pipefitter that had traveled the country welding pipes in nuclear power plants.
Brent taught me the secret of being a successful welder.
- You can’t make a perfect weld.
- Stop welding when things start going wrong.
- Figure out how to make it right.
The secret to long-term success:
Success depends on fixing small mistakes. The hard part is stopping.
Some give up if they can’t get it right the first time. If that’s you, you won’t go far.
Others just plow forward when things start going wrong. That makes matters worse.
A getting it wrong plan:
- Tell yourself and your team that you won’t always get it right, but that you’ll always make it right.
- Working harder makes things worse when you’re doing something wrong.
- Stop and raise your hand when you make responsible mistakes.
- Apologize when you hurt others even though you didn’t intentionally screw up.
- Ask, “What are we learning?” when something goes haywire.
- Create a new approach based on new learnings.
- Adapt quickly. Meet in two days, not two weeks, to evaluate your new approach.
- What did we try?
- How did it work?
- What are we learning?
- What are we going to try next?
It’s better to fix lots of small mistakes than to expect perfection.
Learn and adapt or bad will get worse.
It turned out that my new friend isn’t a biker. He pulled out a picture of his clean-cut self and said, “I grew the beard to play Santa for my granddaughters.”
He reminded me that, “People don’t buy what you do, They buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek
What might be on your “Getting it Wrong Plan”?
First, one of the most important lessons we can be giving our young students (and for that matter all of us) – the ability to make mistakes, learn from them and continue to grow. We need to increase that stamina for trying, failing, forgiving, thinking and thinking some more…
Secondly, Love, just simply Love #5 “What are we learning?” That will be my catchphrase for this year if I can help it! One of the most important questions we should be asking them and ourselves!
Thanks Cleteus. The word stamina really stands out to me. The other thing that comes to mind is my fear of mistake-making is rooted in an over-estimation of myself. It suggests that I don’t need to learn and improve. Humility goes a long way to helping us succeed.
I love this – “working harder makes things worse when you’re doing something wrong.”
I just shared this with a school team I work with – we endeavour to make pedagogical changes through the Professional Learning Community process.
Your words resonated with me as we’ve seen teaching teams make each of these mistakes in multiple well-meaning ways, and we need to help people identify mistakes early and take corrective, data-driven decisions rather than try harder at something that isn’t working. Helping people see failure as a necessary and expected part of the process moves us forward, but some are still having trouble letting go of what doesn’t work.
I think to some degree what we are up against is the notion that teaching decisions are reflections of who we are as people, and that leads some to resist change (along the lines of the ‘Drop You Tools’ research). How do we encourage people to adapt?
Thanks for the post!
Thanks Kathy. It’s great seeing your passion for excellence.
I spent a good part of my life doing things that weren’t working. So glad you found this useful.
WOW! I work for a company that does a lot of welding. Passed this one to our plant manager to share. You can substitute any position or job for the word welding and it applies to all. Love the “What are we learning?” You learn the most from your mistakes, nobody successful got it right the first time. About the beard – “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover!”
Thanks Al. So glad you dropped in today. I have a client with a crew of welders on his team. When Brent told me how to be a successful welder, it blew me away.
His insight distills years of experience into three simple ideas.
Now if I can just learn to stop and adapt more quickly. 🙂
One of these days I have to write about how we judge people that we don’t really know.
So Dan (taking your Comments section in a slightly different direction here but inquiring minds want to know)– what are some of your favorite brands or cigar styles? (if you don’t mind me asking)…
Hey Christopher, Thanks for asking. I prefer Toro and Rubusto for most occasions. If I have more time, I’ll take a Churchill. The Aston VSG is one of my favorites and I also like the earthiness of Padron.
I like to try new things so I don’t get stuck on one brand.
What about you?
I’m with you on the size preferences. I am all over the place with the brands and blends I enjoy. I also like variety and will try obscure brands on occasion. But a few go-to picks are Patel, Padron, JC Newman, Gurkha, and Alec Bradley. When my traveling friends share the occasional Cohiba, La Gloria or lesser-known Cuban brands, I don’t complain. I enjoy the rituals and social aspects of a nice cigar and can usually find something to like in every one I try. Thanks for the reply and cheers!
A “getting it right” strategic philosophy:
Hope for perfection, expect less.
Always do your very best;
But don’t take the results personally.
Speak with affirmation;
But take nothing for granted.
Watch, listen, learn … and adjust accordingly.
Know there is always something more to do and improve, just not now.
Perfection is crystalline (no longer alive, therefore no longer adaptable), it can only be seen, not felt.
There are reasons the “classics” are such, the same reason the Mona Lisa endures in our appreciation (close to a perfection, but still musing on our [human] lives). It’s the imperfections that intrigue us and incite curiousity and inspire us to try again today.
Thanks Rurbane, Your comment made me think about the imperfections on the human face. One eye larger than the other and all that.
It’s the opportunity to continue to improve that makes work interesting. Other than that, it’s pretty boring.
I don’t know how many presentations I’d do if they all turned out exactly the same. Ugh!
My graduate school advisor Russ Ackoff once said, “All of our problems arise out of doing the wrong things righter. The more efficient you are at the doing the wrong thing, the wronger you become. It is much better to do the right thing wronger than the wrong thing righter! If you do the right thing wrong and correct it, you get better.”
Hahaha!! Love it. Thanks for dropping in today. I’m going to remember, “..doing the wrong things righter.” Brilliant.