What happens if you make a mistake? In most cultures, you face punishment when you do something wrong. Failure is not an option. Strange, really, because errors often lead to creative solutions. This is a story about the way we turned a foolish act into something positive.
Bagels and blunders
During one of our hectic working days we decided to order sandwiches at Bagels & Beans, our favourite bagel shop around the corner. But we made a tiny mistake: we placed the order at Bagels & Beans in the Haarlemmerstraat in Leiden instead of Amsterdam! We called immediately to inform them of our blunder and obviously felt bad. We ordered nineteen sandwiches, taking quite a lot of work to prepare.
How could we make it up to them? We decided to offer them different means of compensation. Bagels & Beans Leiden could choose a variety of handmade macarons & little delicious cakes by the name of Mini Me’s, or six hours of our creativity. The famous bagel shop chose our creativity. So, we created a poster and a Facebook post informing clients that the shop was temporarily closed due to renovations. For us, this was a relatively small effort. But the impact was significant. Our mistake was the start of a beautiful friendship with the people from Bagels & Beans Leiden.
Failure is an option
And the moral of this story? Failure is part of life, and most certainly part of business. We don’t often acknowledge it, but mistakes are a fundamental element of our success. Our instinct is to be ashamed of failure, perhaps because we prefer not to feel humiliated or like we’ve done something wrong. But if you can change that perspective and look at failure not as something to be ashamed of but as something valuable, you can begin to understand that it is through failure that we truly learn to succeed.
The sooner we stop shaming ourselves and others for failures, the easier it will be to turn them to our advantage.