I am a terrible student…
That’s right, I said it!
This year I started a class of Marketing Management, today we had what can best be described as a ‘test’ examination and my team… didn’t pass (dun dun duuuuun!)
After having worked in sales for almost a decade, founded a magazine with sponsors like Carlsberg, Burger King and even the local municipality, established and run my own sales company, even now working as an external marketing consultant and much more – then we failed this ‘test‘ examination.
We’d been told that this was supposed to be a realistic examination, as if it were real life and real business.
We’d given it our best and in my opinion done pretty well using the models taught so far.
But we’d done the most fatal mistake of all…
We had not cited our sources! And furthermore, we had left out an element in our analysis.
And so we failed.
I actually agree with the decision that we shouldn’t pass, because we hadn’t fulfilled the task as specified. What bothers me though (quite a bit) was how the decision was delivered and how the whole situation was handled.
We got the news delivered as if it was the end of the world.
In comparrison one of my first companies went bankrupt and the letter I received from SKAT (Danish tax & law) stating that my company was being closed down was more uplifting than how we received our grade.
A feeling that we’d clearly disappointed and done the assignment entirely wrong.
I attempted to salvage the situation going:
“Alright, so I get that we forgot an element and didn’t cite the sources, but other than that, isn’t the work we did correct?”
– hinting that perhaps it was not the end of the world after all…
And the answer came almost as if the question had been an insult:
“No, you didn’t cite sources and that’s very important, so you’re not going to pass!”
I tried again, telling her as calmly as possible:
“I understand we’re not going to pass, because we didn’t fulfill the task as specified. What I’m asking is whether or not the rest of our presentation and the work we did was correct?”
This time an angry answer:
“No Edvard, you don’t seem to get it, it was wrong, you didn’t cite the sources and that’s a mistake!”
Keep in mind, this was a ‘test‘ examination. It won’t count anywhere. It was a test to see whether we’d understood the content taught so far. And after our presentation my team and I left the classroom with heads hanging low, feeling like failures. Just like the majority of the rest of the class, who’d gone through a similar experience, receiving poor grades.
Now, I don’t actually care about the grades or the opinion of my teacher. It bothers at this moment me yes, but I’ll have forgotten about it tomorrow. And truth be told, this degree isn’t that important to me neither. Why?
Because if I really wanted a job, I’d go get and get a job. No problem.
Because my business is doing well without the degree and my customers don’t care about it.
But going about my day afterwards, heading for a meeting with a client, that I’m working with (who by the way has yet to ask me to cite any sources) – I was left to seriously wonder…
What am I actually being taught here?
In over a decade of being an entrepreneur (out there in the real world), I’ve learned that mistakes are how we learn and grow.
When we err, that’s when we learn.
And we had made two mistakes during a ‘test‘ examination, a play pretend but made to feel like it was the end of the world. The first thing I did as we received our feedback was to write down what we’d missed, so that we wouldn’t repeat our mistakes in the future. And that was it for me, I was good to go, to move on, ready to learn.
But the feedback was delivered as if it was the end of the world… It seemed that we had done nothing right. That all the other work we had done didn’t even matter. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so bad from making a simple mistake of misunderstanding an assignment.
And that’s why I wanted to make this statement right here…
Mistakes are fantastic!
You learn and grow from them. So don’t be afraid to make them. Because if you’re scared to go out and learn in your life, you’ll end up stuck inside your comfort zone and you’ll never develop or grow.
When I first started doing sales, I was horrible! I got fired from my two first salesjobs, but I kept going. And I eventually became one of the top performing employees, getting promoted to teamleader.
When I first started working as a teamleader, I was horrible! I made so many mistakes and pissed off a lot of my employees, but I kept going. And I eventually became a respected leader, that my team would want to follow, even after work hours finished.
When I first started public speaking, I was horrible! I spent 5 minutes on stage talking to my feet, because I was so terrified, but I kept going. And I’ve eventually gotten confident enough to speak in front of hundreds of people.
When I first started working as a business entrepreneur, I was horrible! My first company went bankrupt and cost me a lot more than I ever earn in it, but I kept going. And I’ve eventually gotten so good at what I do, that my customers refer new customers to work with me.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without mistakes. I wouldn’t dare chase my dreams, if I was afraid of mistakes. I wouldn’t make the most of my life or do what I love every single day, if I felt that mistakes meant that I was a failure.
We need to fall in love with mistakes, not fear or dread making them. They’re as much part of life as is breathing. And they’re an essential building block for improving anything in your life!