Reminds me of when I was a kid. If my parents discovered something broken or missing around the house, they’d sometimes line up my brothers and me against the wall and say, “Who did this? Just tell the truth and we won’t be mad!” — which, as I recall, was often followed by a spanking if I fessed up.
In contrast to my sometimes less-than-honest youthful mischief, good, honest people make honest mistakes. If they fear retribution, it will breed a culture that discourages risk-taking, stifles innovation, and causes people to hide their mistakes rather than learn from them. Wise leaders create an environment of trust so that creative people won’t be afraid to take risks or think outside the box.
Making (and learning from) mistakes is necessary for growth. Adapting the famous quote from Danish mathematician and inventor Piet Hein: The secret to excellence? Well it’s plain and simple to express: err and err and err again but less and less and less!
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Brent Wright, PE, SE
CEO, Wright Engineers