Owning Your Mistakes and Being Human

by Ken Mueller on October 1, 2012 · 27 comments

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 Owning Your Mistakes and Being Human

Yesterday morning I attempted to make oatmeal for myself for breakfast. I say attempted because I somehow messed it up. I undercooked the stuff and it was rather…grainy. I was disgusted with my efforts at making one of the easiest things on the planet, so I tweeted:

“How hard is it to make oatmeal? Only I could mess it up.

Well, it turns out I’m not the one. My friend Sean responded by forwarding me a tweet from Chef and Food Network host Alton Brown from just the prior morning. The tweet was merely a link to this photo:

A39tH1yCMAIB3jG 1 Owning Your Mistakes and Being Human

 

Now, honestly, I didn’t really feel that bad about messing my oatmeal up, but seeing this made me feel better. I love watching the Food Network and the chef hosts on the network always seem to whip up these amazing creations rather effortlessly in a short period of time. But they mess up. They burn things. They make things that are too thick, too watery, or just plain ugly. But we don’t see it. Alton Brown’s public confession was not only fun, but comforting.

As individuals and businesses using the Internet and social media, we seem to be a bit more prone to making mistakes, and when we make them, they are public. Gone are the days of messing up in front of just three people. We make mistakes in front of the world, in ways that can be shared, retweeted, or captured on video or in a photo. Some of these can even lead to a bit of a social media crisis online.

In this election season, it would be refreshing to hear a candidate own his gaffes and simply utter,

I made a mistake. I was wrong.

But somehow we perceive admitting our mistakes as a sign of weakness. But maybe that’s what we as consumers and the general populace want: humanity, frailty, and weakness. Because when people do that, it shows us that they are just like us: human, frail, and weak.

None of us is perfect. Even the experts make mistakes. We mess things up, we do stupid things, we open our mouths too soon.

When you make a mistake, own it. Admit it. Claim it. Apologize. And do so in the same forum in which you made the mistake. If you tweeted something stupid, own it on Twitter. If you mess up on Facebook, correct the situation there.

It’s time to let go of our pride and remember that everyone makes mistakes. By trying to look perfect, we only look foolish.

And by the way, as a result of my friend’s tweet, I am now following Alton Brown on Twitter, and I suggest you do the same. His tweets are generally just links to pictures he has taken. He has found his own unique way to use Twitter, and even answers culinary questions from his fans via images, and it seems to be working well for him.

Have you ever had to own up to a mistake? Do you have any advice for those who make mistakes?

 

 Owning Your Mistakes and Being Human
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24 comments
TeriMorgan2
TeriMorgan2

Fitting 4me this wk Burnt rice 2 extinction (never do that) & made a mistake w a customer but owned up &moved on @markwschaefer @kmueller62

asocialconnect
asocialconnect

@markwschaefer @kmueller62 Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for your honesty and perspective. I shared on my FB page as well.

profkrg
profkrg

I love this post! I generally think that people are rational (perhaps I am wrong). However, it seems to me that people are likely to look much for favorably on someone who says "Yep, I screwed up," than people who are just unwilling to admit that they've made a mistake. Attempting to cover something up never works! Thanks for the reminder. I passed this on for my public relations students to read.

Kenna

b_lazycanada
b_lazycanada

@geoffreiner @kmueller62 One of my favourite sentiments.

Carmelo
Carmelo

I don't know Ken, I'm awfully good at making oatmeal! 

Seriously, though, not owning up to your mistakes just makes you look foolish. Unless you're some brilliant mind that can somehow offset mistakes 10 to 1. But, in that case, still ... no one will really like you all that much. 

But, messing up oatmeal? Gosh, people will REALLY like you! ;-)

jenzings
jenzings

Alton Brown is awesome.

I think admitting a mistake takes guts. Far from a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength that you know enough to admit when you've done something wrong (and, it's the first step in not making the same mistake again).

ErinMFeldman
ErinMFeldman

@anton_hein Thanks for sharing Ken's post! It was a great post to read this morning.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Learning from first hand mistakes are the most powerful lessons in an individuals life...

Cheers Ken!

Erin F.
Erin F.

I have to own up to mistakes all the time. It's hard, but it's freeing.

Perhaps the thing I hate the most is the non-apology apology. It either attempts to excuse the fault, or the person making the non-apology apology says "This is my personality. Deal with it." I don't think I use the personality card, and I'm trying really, really hard not to excuse my behavior when it's unseemly. My frustrations do not give me the right to be mean to someone else or to excuse that meanness.

VistageDC
VistageDC

@ginidietrich you are welcome.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Carmelo Haha. Yeah, I'm horrible at oatmeal, or at least I was yesterday. But seriously, when we try to cover up mistakes, we forget that we'll probably get found out later on and it will look worse in the end.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@jenzings Exactly. We can really learn from these sorts of things.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Mark_Harai I think that's the key: trying to learn, rather than hide from them.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Erin F. I agree. I hear that type of "this is me" thinking all the time, and it's not a license for being a jerk. I was just having that discussion on Facebook the other day with @margieclayman who was bemoaning the same thing.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Erin F. @margieclayman I'd bet we've always been this way, but now more of our lives is lived publicly. I think in the long run, this might actually make us better people, as we stop trying to be perfect, and start trying to be more real. It might actually impact the way we live, and the things we do, in a positive way.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@margieclayman @KenMueller As a perfectionist, it's excruciating for me to admit failures, but it's necessary. It also is the right thing to do. I don't know how it's become an across the board thing. Maybe it's the emphasis on appearance?

I come across the "this is me" excuse far too often these days. :(

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