I made many mistakes in my 40-year career, but while you learn something from almost every mistake, some mistakes can transform you. These are the 3 that changed my career path and may hopefully help yours:
1. Waiting to be recognized. I think tooting your own horn is hard for many people, but for women, it’s counterintuitive. We weren’t brought up to be boastful or showy. Our tactics were subtler. This doesn’t work in business. You need to find a way to get your accomplishments in front of your boss. It can be something as simple as a quick email to the boss, “ thought you’d like to know we finished this project ahead of schedule and under budget”. Putting your nose to the grindstone and hoping someone notices you is naïve. As a manager, I encouraged my team to be vocal about their wins without being arrogant.
2. Not following your gut. I spent my career in the financial services world where there’s all kinds of models and analysis to help you make decisions. But all the modeling in the world can’t negate the feeling you have sometimes that something just doesn’t smell right. Early on, I relied too much on the data and not enough on my gut and those deals went south. I made the same mistake once when I hired someone who looked perfect on paper, interviewed well, but there was just something that didn’t feel right. Instead of following my instincts, I hired him anyway and needless to say, he didn’t work out.
3. Being tactless and blunt. I believe strongly in being direct and honest. But blurting out the firs thing that comes to mind is often tactless and unprofessional. Being more sensitive to how others hear you can be very valuable. I’ve learned to listen to others with an open mind and try to find something positive to say first, even if it’s just appreciation for the effort being demonstrated
Everyone has major mistakes they’ve had to overcome to be successful. For me, these were the big ones. Fixing these did more for my career than just about anything else. What mistakes did you overcome to help you get where you are today?