One of my first jobs out of college
was at an outdoor center in New Mexico.
There, I facilitated programs for
corporate groups and youth-at-risk:
wilderness expeditions, ropes courses,
and experiential learning opportunities.
On an early assignment for which
I was driving a large passenger van,
I backed into a stone wall
and dinged the rear tail light.
When I returned the van
to the company parking lot on Sunday,
I didn’t say a peep.
I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it
and was braced for some form of recrimination.
In our Monday morning team meeting, Paul,
the head of transportation, spoke up.
“I noticed the tail light on
one of our passenger vans was crushed,
and I’m wondering who did that.”
The blood dropped from my face.
I was about to clear my throat when
Dave, a senior team member, interjected.
“I think the real question
we need to be asking is,
‘What kind of culture have we created
where people don’t feel safe enough
to admit a mistake?”
Thank God for Dave.
And he was right.
How YOU respond to mistakes––
made by your team, your colleagues or your kids––
will go a long way in creating
a culture of honesty, collaboration, trust,
learning and growth.
So the next time someone is brave enough
to share that they screwed up,
be very, VERY mindful of how you respond.
Everyone around will take note.
Risk Forward & Rock On,
P.S. I went back to New Mexico a few years ago and while there, visited my old work site. A quick video of the grounds is at the top of this post.