Mistakes Don't Define You, But Your Response Does

| Leo Neves | Team Articles

October LeoandLucasMe and my son, LucasThe AMP Up1 North Star values that we’ve created are really powerful for me because they don’t stop at work or at my desk.  A lot of these processes and statements are real in my day-to-day life. Anyone that has met me over the last seven years knows that my number one priority is being a good father to my son, Lucas and one of the processes that has been regularly practiced with him is  “Mistakes followed by positive reflection lead to growth”.

In a young person's life, they will make so many mistakes but as a parent, the way we react to those will have a major impact on their growth and confidence to keep exploring. When they drop something (frozen chocolate on your new sofa), fall down because they only know one speed (fast!) or they talk back to their teacher because they always want to be number one (he was not the first one in line that day). These are just a few examples of common mistakes but after every one of these is made, we sit down with Lucas, we talk about it, and reflect. Sometimes it's an easy conversation and sometimes he is left with “Daddy work” (like writing 200 “I’m sorry’s” to his teacher) when he needs more time to reflect on his actions.  

People inherently don’t want to make mistakes.  Mistakes are hard on the ego when they happen and most good people “punish” themselves when they make them.  The mistake doesn’t define you - what you do after the mistake does.  If you sincerely regret the actions, the real apology comes from changed behavior.  In order to allow the person to get past the ego portion of the mistake into the reflection portion, they need space to reflect.  That’s when real growth occurs. 

When there is no culture of psychological safety and when people are ostracized and branded for every misstep they make, they tend to hide their mistakes and cover them up. When this happens the pile gets bigger and bigger and there is no other choice than to run away.  Don’t get me wrong, there are always consequences for mistakes, but it’s far better to focus on the problem than the person.  The person is good. The mistake is what we focus on together. Take ego out of the equation and suddenly they are ready, willing, and able to see how silly the mistake was.  But we do so as a team and I never want them to believe the mistake defines who they are.  

Before this value was officially recorded as part of the culture that we are building at AMP Up1, this was part of my life.  It has helped me become the person and leader I am today and teaching my son to be better than I am.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and have been fortunate that I’ve been given a space to reflect on them and build empathy and understanding.  I also know that who I am is not defined by my mistake, but by how I respond to challenges that I’m faced with.  A person's growth should be far more rewarding to a leader than kicking them when they are down.  

Over the years I have learned so much about being a better leader from working to become a better father. One of those lessons is that having patience with young leaders is much like having patience with my son. You never want them to suffer and “fall down” but if you prevent them from failing they will never learn from the pain that those mistakes will cause. As leaders, at home, or at work, we must be there to encourage those mistakes and help those we care about reflect and get better from them. This will take time and a lot of patience but you will be a proud mentor, friend, and father when you look back on how much they have grown.

“Your mistakes don’t define you, but your response does”. -Amp Up1 Culture Value

-Leo Neves  

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