transform a mistake into an opportunity

#51: Oops I’ve screwed up & best way to transform a mistake into an opportunity

Qili’s 5000-person mistake

Not too long ago, I had a rough morning. I had received some bad news regarding my son and it destabilized me, which made me feel bad and tired. Like I often do when I don’t feel great, I decided to raise my energy by listening to some music, and slowly, I began working again. That’s when my colleague called me in panic. She had sent an email – that was supposed to be sent to a specific customer – to the whole database, around 5000 persons. When she told me what happened, I could start to feel the tension and anger build up inside of me. But even though I was angry, I observed myself and tried to respond in a correct way to the situation. I took a deep breath, managed my anger, and decided to send an excuse email to everyone, explaining we made a mistake. And what I am about to tell you next, might surprise you.

We have NEVER had so many answers and nice reactions to any email before. Why is that? Well, this screw-up showed that we are human. It made us relatable because everyone makes mistakes from time to time. And when you see people admitting to their wrongs, you can create a bond, because of this relatability. 

The difference between reacting and responding

When I screw up, no matter how much I try to meditate or calm myself, I can never suppress the way I feel inside. And that is the case for all of us. You might be able to control how you act, but controlling the emotions and feelings inside is something you usually cannot do. But there are two key elements that you CAN control. That is your capacity to recuperate and your capacity to respond instead of reacting. Recuperating allows you to take a step back and breathe in order to recover faster from your mistake. 

Reacting heavily to a mistake is normal, what matters though, is that you observe yourself and notice what is going on inside of you, just like I did with our little mailing mistake. By accepting these sensations, you can go back to a position where you react in line with your values and your end goal, instead of falling back into your conditioned behavior. And that is the meaning of responding. When you respond to a certain situation, you are in control. When you react though, you let your conditioned behaviors control you. And that is something that you should avoid.

Making mistakes in business 

When I was CEO of a media company, we made a big mistake. Due to time pressure and bad decision-making, we released an update to an outdated teaching platform, knowing that it was still a bit faulty. And my God, that was a big mistake. We had a ton of angry customers that were complaining about bugs. I felt terrible and had a great deal of empathy for customer service, who had to deal with many angry customers every day. We couldn’t fix all the bugs immediately, so I decided to send a message to the whole market. I couldn’t help my customers immediately, but I could show that we cared a lot and understood their frustration. And of course, I apologized and took full responsibility.

And the same concept I explained previously applies here! After admitting to our mistakes, showing empathy, and fixing the problem, we had created a bond with many customers, who became fans of our products! In today’s complex and fast world, you cannot always take into account what will happen in the future to avoid mistakes, because the future is in constant change with all the new technologies and developments that are being made. So what companies should start focussing on, is not how to avoid mistakes – and covering them up with some scheme if they are made – but rather, they should focus on how to turn these mistakes into opportunities, by creating bonds with their customers. But for you to be able to make a mistake from time to time, you need to have a safe work environment. Find out in the link below if you are in a safe team!

I’d like to ask you, the next time you make a mistake, or someone in your team does, try to observe the sensations in your body and accept them, acknowledge that they are there. Be nice to yourself and take full responsibility, even if someone else made the mistake. Then move on, fix it, and learn from it! 

Thanks for tuning in!

qileader authentic leadership

Links mentioned in this episode:

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