Sunday, June 21, 2015

Make no mistake about your mistakes

Thirty years in media has taught me a few things, none more valuable than this simple truth: you cannot be a conscientious worker if you don’t have a conscience. To which I will add three more personal attributes—integrity, honesty, and transparency. I’d like to call them “personal choices” because deep down only you know what is right and wrong. No one can dictate moral sense to you. Either you have it or you don’t. If you do, it sets you apart from most of the rest. You raise the bar of your character not so much in the eyes of the world as much as in your own, and that’s what counts in your life. Your character.

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One of the first things I learnt early on in my career was the necessity of owning up to mistakes, whatever the consequences. In fact, you should be feel like a fish out of water until you do. If you have done something wrong or something you did wasn't quite right, own up to it straight away. Don’t hesitate or cower in fear or hide behind a lame excuse or, worse still, wait for a devious colleague to squeal on you and get you into trouble. Go up to your superior and freely admit your fault, say that you will try and set it right, and assure it won’t happen again. Your chances of losing your job are one in a million. I once knew someone who made a blunder, told her boss she was to blame, and offered to resign. Her offer was rejected, of course. In fact, she notched up a few brownie points which did wonders for her morale.

A clear conscience is like a clean heart. So clean that if someone throws mud at you, it won’t stick. It’s a sort of self-cleansing, self-healing, ego-busting process that can have immense gains in your personal and professional life. You will notice them and learn to value them as you continue to walk on the path of right, instead of wrong as so many of us often do.

In my long career, I often heard of reporters stealing stories and story ideas from other reporters; of senior journalists, even editors, sponging on a junior reporter’s story and byline, and taking credit where none was deserved. That is so not right, nor honest. There are dishonest elements in every field of activity, in every walk of life. The important thing is to do what you think is right and not do unto others what they did to you.

The thing is...

Mistakes, even bad mistakes, are seldom made intentionally. If they happen, don't worry yourself to death over them. The situation will pass.

There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The moment you admit yours, you are in the clear, and you begin anew.

Work on your mistakes. Rectify them. Try and avoid becoming a repeat offender. Even if you do make a mistake again, put up your hand and boldly declare, “I did it!”

Owning up to your mistakes will come as a huge confidence booster. You will realise this no sooner you step out of your boss’s cabin.

So the next time you make a mistake, atone for it, and see how you come right on top of the situation. “Mistakes," as they say, "are stepping stones to learning.” You can't go wrong.