I once posted one of those step-by-step discussions of how we build a piece of furniture; the more interesting discussions from our In The Shop blog become permanent articles in the library section of our custom furniture web site. In this episode I discovered a mistake had been made in the piece of furniture and discussed my remedy for the error. Shortly after having posted the chapter I was hailed by a constant reader and frequent critic to ask, “Why in the world did you admit to having made a mistake? Doesn’t that undermine peoples’ confidence in your work?”
I asked him if he knew anyone who never, ever makes a mistake. What do you think of someone who claims to have never erred?
We all make mistakes now and again. How we handle those mistakes tells as much about us as does what kind of mistakes we make and how often we run afoul of them. Someone who cries and moans about things is generally met with a roll of the eyes and a “here we go again” look from their friends. No one wants to listen to someone wallowing in their misfortune, especially if it’s their own fault. Someone who tries to sweep their blunders under a rug or blame them on someone else will garner no trust from others.
Someone who can admit to having messed up, assess the situation and move on to a solution is just being a well adjusted human being. I like to think such was the case in this instance. I made a mistake in my calculations, devised a workable solution and executed it. If I attempt to portray myself as absolutely infallible others will see me as a puffed up bag of air. If I try to blame mistakes on… the dog… or simply deny them; I’m a liar. But if I am honest and present a truthful picture of myself – warts and all – people will know that I can be trusted not to deceive them.
At least that’s my theory. I don’t make a lot of mistakes, but when I do, I’ll fess up to them and do my best to make it right. Life is just simpler that way.