Managing Mistakes

It takes a lot of trust and honesty to talk about the plans that didn't work out, says entrepreneur, Chief Executive, and author Margaret Heffernan in her latest Resource Center column, "Mistakes." Behind every successful business, and every business person, lie many mistakes, she continues.

Heffernan shares a personal story of a mistake she made in her career, as well as how she recovered from it. She begins:

When asked about the meaning and impact of the French Revolution, Chairman Mao is reputed to have said, "it’s too early to tell." He might have been right but, in 1989, no one wanted to wait. Like all big anniversaries, the bicentenary generated a lot of television programs and it seemed like I was in charge of most of them.

I was a producer at the BBC, had made history films for years, and was a self-confessed French Revolution buff. No assignment could have pleased me better. A documentary series shot on location, a drama series featuring Alan Rickman and Simon Callow, a conversation with Simon Schama, even a comedy. And that was just the recorded shows. There was also to be hours of live TV covering fantastic celebrations across France. Jean-Paul Goude, Grace Jones’s collaborator, was in charge of the parade. He'd never done anything like this before. French TV was in charge of the live broadcast; they'd never done anything like it before. And, as if that weren't risk enough, I'd never done live television before.

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  • mahendrakumardash

    In Schools,I was very good at my subjects.Overconfidence led to negligence and I did not pay more attention to studies than waht was required.When POP and MOM were not there and the whole thing fell on head,I had to repend and
    concentrate on academics because of which I am able to earn my bread today and I am where I am.

  • Gary Bourgeault (managersrealm

    The very fact that you've shared your mistake shows the healthy impact it's had on you.

    It is all about keeping on and hanging in there as far as business and management goes.

    When I've managed employees, I've found that they give out much more respect when you admit your wrong and take responsibility for it. Sometimes things are even better after it happens as a result.

  • mahendrakumardash

    I do not fully agree.Every one commit mistakes.Sucessful people manage them this way or that way and their mistake becomes the reason for success.

  • mahendrakumardash

    Managing mistakes made is an art which few people know and they are successful people though they commit mistakes often.

  • mahendrakumardash

    Equally one should not forget that there are people who take the plea of 'by mistake'/or
    unintentional act while committing the same.These
    type of persons are unwanted persons in a company.

  • Diane Corriette

    Mistakes are such an important part of learning and developing and this excellent article highlights that. The important thing to remember is as long as you learn from your mistake and move on then you have been successful. A Successful mistake!
    Many of the most successful people in business made huge mistakes and I always tell the women I work with that you are not a failure until you give up! Look at what happened, take responsibility for your part, look at what you have learnt from your mistake and/or what it can teach you, decide your next move, and move on!
    That's all it takes. No drama, no self pity, no tears. Its great stuff when you can master that.
    Thank you for sharing your "mistake" with the world.
    Diane Corriette, Inspirational Guidance