A Little Loving Leeway: Learning From Our Mistakes

OopsA while back, a colleague and I set up our first Facebook group for invited members of our community. Neither of us knew very much about Facebook at that time and it wasn’t until our new members started using the group and gaily inviting their own FB chums that we realised that our specially crafted instructions had fallen some way short of our good intentions. That’s the thing with human beings, isn’t it? You cannot legislate for what they will read into your instructions – or that they might simply ignore them altogether.

Our intention had been to give our members a very special gift in return for their loyalty to us; theirs had been immediately to pay it forward and start to play fast and loose with our “rules”. In so doing we discovered that a private, secret Facebook group is no such thing unless you click one dot within Settings, and even then it isn’t private. Your members can still invite their pals but at least we, as Admins, can decline. And thus a sort of equilibrium was returned to our plan.

So now we know. And that’s just great.

Learning by doing is always the quickest way to learn something new. I also know for certain sure that this will not be our last Facebook learning and one day, in a couple of years’ time, probably sooner, one of us will look up from a steaming laptop and say confidently to the other “we are quite good at this Facebook lark now, aren’t we?” and we shall laugh when we remember our somewhat faltering start.

Fortunately our clients are a forgiving lot and they were invited specifically for this purpose, to be our R & D team to help us learn, though I am confident neither of us imagined that learning would be quite so fast! Thank Heavens we are both possessed of a GSOH and could swing into action pronto and fix it efficiently.

So there’s three learnings straight away for us:

1. Be lucky enough to work with people you like and respect and where the feeling’s mutual, so there’s a little loving leeway.

2. Be adaptable and responsive and efficient and fast to correct inadvertent errors and don’t take them too seriously.

3. Be prepared to laugh at yourself while learning on the hoof, having set up that learning environment in a safe way.

I’m a bit inclined to wonder why people can’t just do as they are told and follow the bloody instructions. [Read that last bit in the same voice Michael Caine uses when he talks about blowing the bloody doors off.] Then I remember that I am not in the least inclined to follow the instructions in my life either and I hate rules. I believe you get what you give and when stuff like this happens, life is holding up a mirror to me to remind me who I am. Entrepreneurs and rules? I don’t think so!

But I do really like the idea of us entrepreneurs being prepared to learn by doing. We cannot sit and wait until everything’s perfect because there simply are not enough hours in the day when you work for yourself. No-one wants or will pay the price for perfection; they want good enough from people who they know have their heart in the right place.

These are the sorts of issues we were addressing as this new group was intended to help entrepreneurs on their way – issues such as perfectionism and procrastination and how to ditch them in favour of earlier results in your business which you can test with your market today.

Just for now I’d ask you to ponder this…how comfortable are you with making mistakes and learning in public? That’s what this story is all about really. No-one else was still thinking about this even 24 hours later, except me. It was yesterday’s news, they’d all moved on. But I was left wondering how we could improve our instructions to clients to make it even easier on them next time around. Fortunately it was quick and easy to tidy up our mess and move on. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have made a mess at all. But we did. C’est la vie.

To err is human; to forgive, divine. Thankfully we were lucky enough to have attracted a forgiving tribe of lovely readers, followers, clients and Facebook friends and fans.

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