What Kind of Mistakes Do You Make?

    Marcus Aurelius A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission.  

Marcus Aurelius

There are two ways to get in trouble in life. Either you do something you shouldn’t, or you don’t do something you should.  In biblical doctrine they call this Sins of Commission (doing) or Sins of Omission (not doing).

Manic Impressives make mistakes differently than other folks because of our extraversion and impulsiveness. I know for myself, it’s what I do that gets me in trouble. Sins of Commission.

This matters, because to grow, we must be willing to make mistakes. We must take risks, overcome perfectionism, get out of our comfort zone and learn from our missteps. Knowing your mistake tendencies can help you clean up your messes and get to your learning more quickly.

Half of my troubles come when I don’t keep my mouth shut. I cause myself a lot of trouble with words. The rest of the time I seem to take action before I’ve gotten all the permission I need. Sometimes I just don’t see how complicated a situation is and I act without thinking how others may be impacted.

Like the time I was delivering to a large group in New York. There were two women in the audience acting out – talking and laughing loudly during my presentation, generally being rude and disruptive.

Late in the presentation they finally got interested and stopped being rude. But by then they had gotten under my skin and I’d had enough of them. When one asked a question, “Is this foolproof?”, a sure buying signal, I could not help myself. I blurted out, “No, I get fools in here all the time.”

There was a beat of awkward silence, then the women up and left. The rest of the room paused, let their collective breath out and we continued. But the damage was done. I’d gotten a little payback from the rude women but lost my likeability with the rest of the room.

My little outburst cost me.

Why couldn’t I have just kept my mouth shut? Sure, for a moment it felt good to pop off. And yeah, I got a story to tell out of it. But I would have made more and grown more if I’d used restraint.

Here’s the good part of this. When your mistakes are public, it’s easier to learn from them, make amends, get forgiven and move on. But when you fail by omission, you cause others to find you out. This violates trust, and most people are very slow to forgive that.

Just ask Ryan Lochte. His act of vandalism at the Rio Olympics should have been a minor hiccup. But he lied and made up a story to cover his tracks. When it all came out, it triggered an international incident and he was stripped of corporate sponsorships that paid him over $1 million a year. Bye-bye career.

People don’t like to be deceived. When you don’t speak up or tell the truth about a situation, you can avoid conflict in the moment. But when other people discover your deceit, there’s usually hell to pay.

We’re seeing this now in our two presidential candidates. Mr Trump sticks his foot in his mouth almost daily. He makes his mistakes by saying and doing things others don’t like. Commission.

Ms. Clinton is considered by many to be dishonest. From Benghazi, to her private email server to this week’s pneumonia admission, people find out things about Hillary after the fact. Now she has a reputation for not being trustworthy. Omission.

So we have one candidate with extensive experience in government and one who has never held an elected office at any level anywhere. But because of errors of Omission, a race many folks thought would be a blow-out is likely to come down to the wire.

Where are you on this scale? Are your mistakes things you do, or things you don’t do? Do you blurt things out and end up with your foot in your mouth? Or do you hide out and deceive others by not sharing what you know? Do you see one way as more damaging than the other? I sure do.

Tell me what you think about this so we can help each other learn from our mistakes.

3 thoughts on “What Kind of Mistakes Do You Make?”

  1. I was called into a meeting with the guy that hired me to tell me about the customer that I had a run in with regarding not providing the service he was expecting. The customer was arrogant and filled with entitlement. I had enough misinformation regarding what he needed that only fueled his impatience and frustration. I came back at the customer with my own level of righteousness that only made things worse. The interaction ended with the customer storming out of the store. Since them I made it a point to continue to inquire at the risk of continuing to look like the “new guy” until I had the answer that would provide the best service possible.
    Coming from years of being self employed I often chose just not to work for arrogant entitled assholes and that all was fine and I found out I can’t do that in a retail environment if I wanted to continue to be employed.
    A lesson in checking my ego and learning how to make lemonade out of lemons.

  2. This is a tough one because sometimes I avoid conflict from fear without thinking of future compounding and other times you can’t pay me to shut up. I guess the best situation is being more aware now and self reflecting — why did I choose that reaction in that situation. What can I do alternatively next time?

  3. You do not have to apologize for what you haven’t said out loud, or do you? I would say this comes down to integrity and keeping ourselves in check. One is not better or worse, just more evident.

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