It's OK to Make a Mistake
By Robyn Henderson

Successful people make lots of mistakes - that's why they are successful.

Being able to make a decision quickly and comfortably is one of the keys to great leadership and effective networking. Picture yourself at a networking business function, having a conversation with someone who you consider to be "well connected". Spontaneously you are invited to attend a social sailing day, with only a limited number of people invited on the boat. If you are a confident decision maker you possibly asked a few key questions e.g. time of departure and expected return time, would it matter that you weren't a "yachtie" and really ranked yourself as a beginner (its better to under promise and over deliver than vice versa). Based on those key points, you probably accepted or declined on the spot.

Or, if decision making does not come easily to you, you asked a few questions and then had a major or minor stress attack trying to decide whether to go or not. In the end, you may have asked if you could get back to them in 24 hours. Too late, unfortunately, the boat was filled before the function ended. Another missed opportunity for you.

When the need arises to make a quick decision always consider, what is the worst thing that can happen. Once this is identified, then ask yourself can you cope with that? If you can, then go for it. If not, it may be best to decline.

At times FEAR is the thing that stops us from making a decision. You may recall times when fear has frozen you in your tracks. Some of the FEARS or False Evidence Appearing Real that regularly occur for some people are: 

Fear of making a mistake 
Fear of failing 
Fear of looking or feeling stupid 
Fear of rejection 
Fear of losing friends 
Fear of not being liked 

These fears are usually totally unfounded. Worriers worry about things that may never happen. What a waste of energy! This is not to dismiss these fears, because at the time they are incredibly real. Any of the above fears can actually manifest into headaches, pain, stress or a multitude of physical ailments. However, if we look at the real reason these symptoms appeared, it is sometimes started by an imagined fear, similar to those listed above. The more we stay in the moment and stop the endless chatter in our heads, the more clarity we have around decision-making.

With large decision making, a technique I have found to be useful is:

  1. State the problem - or situation. What is the obvious problem, or what are people implying the problem is?
  2. State the facts. From a total outsider's point of view, what are the actual facts?
  3. State the real problem. Based on the facts, is it necessary to restate the problem or situation? (With the yachting invitation, was it basically that the invitee had not been sailing previously and was afraid of looking foolish)
  4. List the options. Both outrageous and mainstream.
  5. Pick the option with the best outcome, based on the facts you have. It's okay to make a mistake. Based on the facts you had at the time the decision was made. Time will tell whether it was a right or wrong decision. If you did make a mistake, that's okay. Things are rarely irreversible - from every mistake you learn how not to do it next time.

Often the problem we think we have to fix is not the real problem. Author, Sergio Bambaren tells us "Most of us are not prepared to overcome our failures, and because of this we are not able to fulfil our gifts. It is easy to stand for something that does not carry a risk."

Networking is about risk. And about making mistakes, feeling stupid at times, constantly moving out of your comfort zone and making choices. May your decisions always be wise ones and your networking always lots of fun.

About the author: Robyn Henderson is an author, publisher and international business educator. She travels throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia showing companies how to double their customer base through effective networking. Her latest book is HOW TO MASTER NETWORKING. For more information visit her website at www.networkingtowin.com.au

The original version of this article can be found at www.positivepath.net/ideasRH1.asp