Admitting mistakes is a hard thing to do, whether in your personal life or professional life. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do for professional and personal growth.
Since RED started working with websites many years ago, our workflow has gone through many stages of evolution. We’re always working to improve it, and the process isn’t always smooth for all of us.
I confess that I have
some a lot of trouble with Pantheon hosting’s workflow. I don’t find it even remotely intuitive when using WordPress, and it’s not always practical given the interplay between files and database in the WordPress system. Today, I committed a change on a website, and immediately had that split second, “Oh, crap!” moment as I realized while clicking that there were outstanding commits by another team member that hadn’t been approved yet. Pantheon has a backup system built in, so I tried to correct my error by restoring the site to a previous backup, before the commits I shouldn’t have made. But the plugin I had added to the site was still available even on the live site, leaving me to question what the restore process actually did, if anything.
Obviously not admitting my mistake or trying to hide it wouldn’t help the client, the project manager, or me. Explaining what I did, why, and asking the project manager to check what unintended consequences my actions may have had was the only way forward.
Admitting mistakes allows us the ability to fix the issue, and to recognize a pain point in our processes, so we can try to improve those processes in the future.
Many, many years ago, when just starting out, I snagged an image from Google for a website that was in progress. As the site wasn’t yet finished or publicized, I didn’t even consider the issue of image copyrights. (That many years ago, I had actually been taught in a corporate legal setting that using images from “Google images” was perfectly ok!) I didn’t give it a thought until we got a cease and desist letter from Getty Images with a huge invoice for previous – unauthorized – use of their image. That costly incident taught me about image copyright, and also about keeping unlaunched sites from being freely available on the internet before they are ready.
Fortunately, there are a lot of generous artists who allow the use of their images today royalty-free, under Creative Commons Zero or other licenses on sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay, so it’s easier to avoid this type of issue now, without breaking the bank on stock images, either.
It is never easy to admit our mistakes, particularly when the mistake has an impact on yourself, your clients, or your coworkers. But it’s important to take responsibility for those mistakes, and learn how to treat those errors as learning experiences to improve our processes.
Admitting mistakes and not assigning blame to someone else requires a certain amount of humility. It’s important to be able to reflect objectively about how to improve our workflow or skills after an error. Someone whose ego won’t allow him to admit a mistake will have a much harder time growing professionally.
Have you ever made a mistake and found it hard to admit it? If you did admit it in the end, how did it help you? Share with us in the comments.