Act like a 5-year-old – and eradicate business mistakes from your life
Give a 5-year-old a multiple-choice question about how you should run the invoicing software in your startup business and, chances are, the answer’s going to lead to failure. Lots of sweets and cartoons, but failure nonetheless.
What do you do to the 5-year-old? Spend the next couple of years of his or her life giving them a hard time about it? No, of course you don’t – because the kid was only working with their limited understanding and life experience.
So, what about you when you make a mistake? Are you honestly any different? Or are you just a person, facing a situation that you’re not 100% sure about – and doing your best based on your current level of knowledge and experience?
This human nature, it’s completely true. It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO of a large global enterprise or a small local business such as willshapools.com , we can make mistakes, especially ones with financial or business repercussions, we do beat ourselves up about it – sometimes for a very long time.
You’ve probably heard this said before, but I want to stress how unquestionably true it is:
There’s no such thing as a mistake.
Whatever it was that you’ve done, it was based on your most sound judgement at the time. Even if you’ve told the CEO where he can stick his job – you’ve made your decision in the moment, it might not have been the best decision but you made it – now it’s time to live with your actions.
This even applies when you’ve found yourself working from with dubious intentions. Been caught out doing something you know you shouldn’t have been doing? Tried to pull a fast one knowing it was the wrong thing to do?
For whatever reason, you’ve made your decision and it’s resulted in a less than ideal situation.
How to live with it
People get confused about what it means to live with your actions. ‘Living with it’ doesn’t mean pretending it hasn’t happened – nor does it mean crying yourself to sleep thinking about it.
Living with it means looking at the situation objectively, understanding your behaviour and working out what you would do in the same situation again – based on the knowledge you now have. No time for regrets – but plenty of time for learning.
That 5-year-old who screwed up your invoicing process might be a billionaire entrepreneur one day – they just need to keep learning. You might be a billionaire entrepreneur one day – you just need to keep learning.
Consciously vs. unconsciously
I’m sorry to break this to you, but the 5-year-old’s got a big advantage over you when it comes to reaching that first billion – and the reason lies in the way that they learn.
They’re still absorbing the world mostly unconsciously – soaking up learning like a sponge thrown into a bath.
But you’re not, you think you know it all, you think you’ve got learning worked out.
Newsflash number 2 – if you knew it all you’d be counting your money on an island you owned. So, you need to snap out of this painful way of learning only when it hurts. Forget thinking you’re successful, forget thinking that you’ve got the skills to pay the bills – and start looking at everything with the eyes of a child – ready to soak up learning.
We’re all really good at spotting when something’s going to go wrong for a person based on their current trajectory – yet we still hit the mountains sometimes. Time to get into a grandstand seat so you’ve got this same objective overview of your own life.
If you want to eradicate mistakes from your life you need to understand what they really are – they’re opportunities to consciously learn more about yourself and modify your behaviour so you’re better equipped for the future.
Here’s how to get that grandstand view.
Think about your goals and aspirations.
Unless you know where you want to go how can you stay on the right path daily? Holding goals in your mind at all times will give you a map reference point to check all potential action against.
Find the lay of the land
Don’t wait for another situation to occur before you work out the place that you’re operating from. Understand where you are in relation to your goals – and what habits and behaviours in your life are helping or hindering your journey.
Think about previous situations you’d like to have dealt with differently – perhaps think about missed opportunities that could have taken you toward that goal a little quicker. What was it that took you down the current path instead of the ideal path?
Don’t attribute blame to anyone else. You can only control you. If it wasn’t controllable, it wasn’t avoidable.
Think more broadly
Lay this last bad decision out next to things you’ve considered to be mistakes going further back in time. Can you see any themes running through these situations? Remember, we’re talking about you, if you’re focusing on others think about what you could have done to change the way they’ve acted.
Pick out some lessons to learn
Put yourself in these situations again, metaphorically. What would you do differently based on what you now know? Can you see any areas in your life that it would benefit you to work on changing? Try to identify the core issues and what you can do about them.
Plot the future
Can you see things progressing until you find yourself in these kind of situations again? If you can, what can you do at this early stage to change the path you’re taking and point toward a more advantageous outcome?
Join the big league
Guess who else is in that grandstand with you when you kick the gates open and let yourself in for an objective view of how you work and act?
The answer is – every other successful entrepreneur, every self-made millionaire and billionaire in the world. Zuckerberg, Branson, Gates, Musk, every top athlete – and everyone who we’ll hold in the same esteem for 20 years to come. They’re all there, assessing and changing their behaviour based on previous experiences.
All of them agree, your biggest opportunities come from your biggest mistakes. Now, rub the concept of mistakes out of the world and you’re in exactly the same place as the 5-year-old – facing nothing but a world of learning and opportunity.