Which mistake that you ever made felt like a catastrophic failure at the time but, upon reflection, was a huge learning opportunity? I remember many of my mistakes very well. Let me share one with you.
It was during a training on communication skills that I delivered to a group of 10 engineers. After the first introductions, I announced that the next part after the break would be one-on-one conversation exercises. I announced that the exercises would be video-recorded for review and feedback. One guy got a bit nervous and told me he wasn’t in for that. I knew this would happen – it always did – so I knew how to handle this. I told him not to worry, that many others before him told me so but, in the end, experienced the video review as the best learning experience.
I thought I handled it quickly and professionally. But during the break, he came to me to discuss this once more. He told me that he had been part of the United Nations (UN) Army and, while doing his service, had been a prisoner of war (POW). The enemy held him in hostage for 10 days. Most of the time, they pointed a video camera on him from one side and a Kalashnikov automatic rifle on the other! He told me being on camera could provoke ‘a reaction I cannot predict but, in general, not very positive’. I thanked him for being honest to me about this and apologized for not taking his first message seriously. Be careful with your assumptions, Ger, and check them, Ger! I was embarrassed but nothing like this happened to me ever again.
Sometimes, you win, sometimes you learn…