Updated: Nov 25, 2020
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One of the greatest gifts you can give to any student leader, and any student even, is to give them the knowledge that mistakes are part of the job. That removes the fear of making them, since mistakes are inevitable. What group of students are more worried about making mistakes? Outwardly, it is our high achievers, and the typical ‘student leaders,’ but in reality all students (and let’s be honest, teachers) are afraid of making mistakes.
The focus of this post is not about making mistakes - the focus here is about what happens when you make a mistake, and how you proceed after that mistake. If you have already shared with your students that mistakes are part of the job, then they already know they will make them, and what we need to focus on is how to manage the challenges that come from making mistakes.
Perfection will slow you down, tie you down, or prevent growth and vulnerability. Learning that we can not achieve perfection, especially as a leader, is the greatest gift to give. When a leader has the opinion that mistakes cannot or will not be made is where many challenges in a community begin.
If you are working on developing student leaders you first have to know that making mistakes is part of the process. You need to be willing to make mistakes, and handle those mistakes to fully accept responsibility, apologize when and as necessary, and understand the impacts of those mistakes on others, especially if they are the mistakes that impact your student leaders.
As a teacher, you already are in a leadership role, and if you want to mold students into strong leaders then you will need to remember your students are looking to you for guidance on those behaviors and choices. If you are afraid of making mistakes, you should know that your students will follow suit. If you are afraid to admit when you have done something wrong, then you should expect your students to do the same. Being vulnerable and understanding the courage it takes to be vulnerable will allow you to demonstrate how to own your mistakes.
There is no greater gift you can give yourself, actually. Welcoming mistakes as a place to show courage to your students will help them know what to do when they make their own mistakes. Being afraid to say you are sorry damages so many relationships, most importantly the one you have with yourself.
How do you handle mistakes?
If this post speaks to you, I encourage you work on how you view your mistakes, encourage students to do the same, and share this post with someone else. If you think the ideas I am sharing could be useful in a training session for you or your school - please contact me today for a discovery conversation to see if we are a good fit. I really want to spread the world with strong, confident leaders. I can work with teachers, students or your own children, there is really nothing we can’t try.