Making mistakes means you’re human

by | Jul 23, 2019 | Leadership

Last week, a technical issue resulted in me losing almost all registrations for my current webinar series twice in 24 hours. It was bad enough asking people to re-register the first time it happened, but when I needed to ask people to re-register a second time, as well as postponing the webinars by a week, I was incredibly embarrassed.

After I’d plucked up the courage to press “send” on the email, I was really anxious about how they would respond. Would I receive angry responses wondering how I could be so incompetent? Surely, I couldn’t expect people to re-register again?

Yet a few days on, the majority, astonishingly, had re-registered. Not only that but I was touched by how tolerant and empathetic people were with messages along the lines of “No worries”, “These things happen”. I received one email from a manager who said she didn’t have time to register again, yet even then she started by expressing understanding for the situation.

In summary, the world didn’t fall apart. I am still here.

What’s more, registrations for the webinar series have gone way beyond my expectations and the first webinar had fantastic attendance and was well-received.

There’s 3 things I take from this:

  1. We are so much more compassionate and understanding to others than to ourselves. Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? No, I thought not. What’s more, studies show that people don’t judge as nearly as harshly as we fear.

  2. We are human. Making mistakes helps to demonstrate that humanity. Being perfect and invulnerable does not. Remember the book “Ish” which I referred to in my last post, Choose progress over perfection? Author, Lynne Cazaly, refers to a social psychology theory called the Pratfall Effect that says we find people more attractive after they’ve made a mistake. And if we consider them highly competent, then we like them even more! (If we think they’re average, then they become less likeable after the mistake but I’m sure that doesn’t apply to you.)
  3.  We worry alot more about what other people are thinking than they are actually thinking about us. We have evolved with a need to belong – our ancestors would have risked death if they weren’t part of a tribe. Ironically, given our evolutionary legacy, we are all far more alert to the perceived “threats” around us than we are about what other people are up to. What are you thinking about now? Most likely your own problems and challenges, not other people.

Try messing up, just a little bit.

Whilst I don’t wish my experience on you, I encourage to experiment with messing up, even a tiny bit, and see what happens. Watch the world NOT falling apart and take courage.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to sign up for the remaining 3 webinars in the series, Confidence for Women in Finance. You will learn how to rewire your brain for confidence, set boundaries that help you feel happier and get more done, and communicate with courage and impact. Even if you’re not working in finance, you are sure to pick up some valuable tips.

Remember, the world is waiting for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do drop me a line at

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Alison Reid is an experienced executive coach who helps new Directors lead with confidence and step-change their influence and impact. She works with them 1-1, empowering them to focus on what matters, communicate with impact and stay calm under pressure so they can lead themselves and others to great results. She's the author of Unleash Your Leadership : How to Worry Less and Achieve More. Download an extract or buy the book.

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