How many better decisions could you make IF, you felt it was okay to be wrong?
December 29, 2021
Okay to be wrong? Nope, I can’t even think it, much less say it out loud. For those of us that are “recovering” perfectionists (Remember, I am a work in progress.), still have a hard time believing that being wrong is okay.
Trust me, I know that making a mistake can be deadly. That was drilled into us at pharmacy school. But, not every mistake will be deadly. It may cause some harm or no harm. None of us want to hurt another person, we are here to help you to get better. To thrive. My yearly average was pretty good. Some years, I made no mistakes and some years, I made one. It sucks to have to write-up the incident report. Thankfully, mine was never the wrong medication. Wrong strength, wrong dosage form (tablet instead of capsule), incorrect directions, wrong doctor name, wrong original date, wrong quantity, all count as errors or mis fills. Every mistake and every incident gets written-up and sent in to corporate.
We hate making mistakes
I hate making mistakes! I get angry at myself. I replay the incident over and over in my mind. Sometimes, I can figure out what happened and sometimes, I cannot. If it is a procedural error, such as disruption with a phone call or a customer at the window, then we can put things into place to mitigate those disruptions. If it is a look and mis-see error, usually you cannot fix that. Once you have “seen” drug, names and directions, you tend to see the same thing every time that you look at the prescription and the label. That is why it is best if a technician types in the prescription and the pharmacist checks it with fresh eyes. You always want at least two sets of eyes on it. I did not really mean to go this deep on this.
What did you learn?
The point is, if you can identify a “fix” or a better way to do it next time, then you have learned something and most likely you will not make that same mistake again. You have learned and moved forward.
Isn’t that what is best for all of us? But, no, we keep beating ourselves up for past mistakes and errors. If we do that long enough, we will never make another decision that may impact someone else.
What if we could, be a little kinder to ourselves and allow ourselves to learn from what went wrong? Learn from what did not work? We catastrophize, we imagine the worst possible outcome of an action or event. For example, “If I flunk this test, I will fail this course, I won’t graduate and I will be a failure in life.” Another one is, “If I don’t recover fully in the first two weeks, after surgery, then I will never get better and I will be in pain or disabled the rest of my life.
97% of the time, none of that is true. You keep studying and doing better in your class. If you fail, you will have to re-take it, and then you will graduate. Healing takes time and you do get better as time goes on. You do have to do your part with rehab, moving and taking your medication as directed. Your pain will lessen and you will be able to get back to your activities.
I guess that we all need to catastrophize occasionally. Maybe, it keeps us on our toes? If you are going to catastrophize, then you have to go all in with your thinking. Ok, the worst has happened. Now what? Keep going.
What if we don’t catastrophize? What if we stop the automatic negative thoughts that come to us? What if the negative thinking is hurting you more than it is keeping you safe? If you always look for the bad or the worst, you will find it! The opposite is also true. If you look for the possibilities or the good, you will find that too. Stress and anxiety really does play a part in how we think about things.
You are right, sometimes things will get bad. But, not everything gets bad. We don’t deny reality, we do our best to accept it and provide the best quality of life possible. I will never give up planning and hoping for the best. I have learned that it is okay to make a mistake. It is okay to make adjustments. It is even okay, to try another approach. Trying is never failing. F.A.I.L. – First Attempt In Learning
Fear of failure, keeps us stuck
It is our own screwed up mindset that keeps us afraid and that fear of failure rears its ugly head. Our self-worth gets tied up in to how well we perform. Think of a baby that is learning to walk. How many times do they fall? How many times do we tell them, “You can do it?” Or “try again?” They are learning something new and it is going to take a little time for them to learn. What would happen if the first time that they tried to walk and fell, they just sat there and cried and never tried to walk again? We would take them to their doctor to find out what was going on. We would think, “Ok, they fell, but they can try again and again and soon they will be able to walk.” We will even help them to get up and move those legs.
Have you ever been pushed to explain your reasoning? Even when someone is curious and really just wants to know, we get all mad and start defending our position rather than explaining. That conversation never ends well, does it? What if we can be curious and wonder about our choices. What options have we thought of? What options could be found if we talked with others? Don’t guess. Don’t assume, ask questions when you do not understand. I like to use a round table discussion where everyone is helping to brainstorm. Everyone throws out their ideas and nothing is ruled out until after the brainstorming session has ended.
None of us is very comfortable being critiqued. If you work for a company, then you will have a yearly evaluation. Sometimes, they are not pleasant. It is not that they are bad or really even negative, just some things that we need to improve. When we realize that we are receiving feedback to help us to become better and more efficient, we tend to accept the information easier than if we think we have done something wrong. Don’t let your automatic negative thoughts run away with you. Take a minute or two and assess the situation. The people around you want you to succeed. If they don’t, then find new people to be around.
I guess we did chase a rabbit or two during this blog.
Stop trying to be perfect
Let yourself be open to learning new things. If you are wrong, admit that you are wrong. I promise you; it won’t kill you to admit such a thing. I have done it myself and it did not kill me. In fact, when I stopped trying to be perfect, most decisions became easier to make. They turned out quite well, too. I am smart enough to know when I don’t know. I find others that are smarter than me and I ask questions. I learn new things and new ways of doing things.
When you are right, don’t be an ass. Tomorrow, you could be wrong. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Decide if you want to be a leader or a follower. A leader will take charge and make a decision after considering the current options. A leader knows when they have made a mistake. A leader will say, “I have messed up. This did not work out as I had hoped. Let’s try this.” A leader will say, “We made a good choice and things are working out nicely. Thank you all for your input.” When we admit our mistakes, we make it easier for others to admit theirs. Being wrong does not mean you are bad. Being wrong does not mean you should feel shame. Being wrong is just a thing that happens sometimes.
Failure is an event, not a person
If you try to avoid mistakes, maybe you are not open to learning new things? Making mistakes does not make us a failure. Failure is an event and never a person. I wanted my techs to check me. I always told them that I had rather they be wrong than me be wrong. We need to challenge things that we think are wrong. They may or may not be wrong, but we need to find out. Question when you do not understand. Something new takes two, three or five times to hear before being understood.
Admit your mistakes. Look at the new skill you will learn. Resilience is what you learn when you get back up and try again. Resilience is one key to succeeding. You will not like making a mistake nor should you, but you do need to accept that you have made a mistake.
When you make a mistake what will you do? Will you pretend that it did not happen? Will you point the finger at someone else? Or will you take responsibility for your mistake and learn from it? Will you forgive yourself and move forward? If someone else makes a mistake, will you empathize with them instead of blaming them?
Besides, when you admit your own mistake … no one can ever hold it over you.