In a recent interview with my great friend Steve Berglas, we talked about his work teaching people how to deal with their errors, their screw ups. Steve is an expert on this. An executive coach and management consultant who spent twenty-five years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry had a private psychotherapy practice in Boston, Steve is the author of five amazing books, including his most recent Stay Hungry and Kick Burnout in the Butt.
Below is an excerpt from our interview in which Steve helps us understand that we all make mistakes and it’s okay!
Marshall: You know one of the things I love about your work is that you teach people how to deal with their errors, their screw ups. We all make mistakes. What’s your suggestion for dealing with mistakes?
Steve: The best and most efficient way that a person who has status or stature can deal with an error is by saying, “I screwed up. My bad. Mea culpa.” And there are hundreds and hundreds of examples, but I think the best one is Roberto Goizueta.
Marshall: What happened?
Steve: Roberto was the CEO of Coke, and he was fearful that Pepsi was encroaching, so he approved, “New Coke”. Well the uproar was like Babe Ruth being sold by the Red Socks to the Yankees. It was unbelievable! After hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people protested, he said, “Look, I made a mistake.” And, he gave us back what’s now called Classic Coke. Because he admitted he made a mistake. Because he said to us, “I made an error. I blew it.” And, he fixed the error, Coke’s stock quintupled. By doing that admission of error and vulnerability, he empowered the entire brand.
What happens when you say, “I’m vulnerable,” is people say, “Look that guy’s more accessible, the guy’s more confident.” If a guy can admit his errors, he’s got to have courage. And that’s how you make your screw ups better.
Marshall: I love it. In my own work I ask people to ask for confidential feedback and in a sense ask them to do the same thing you’re suggesting. I ask them to stand up and say, “I feel good about this, and this and this behavior, and hey, here’s a mistake I made. For example, I haven’t been a good listener. If I haven’t listened to you or other people, I’m sorry. Please accept my apology. There is no excuse.”
People sometimes believe that when they openly admit to errors that people will think less of them. But like yours, my research is very clear, people think more of you. It shows you have the courage to admit you can make a mistake. You have the humility to step up and say it and do something about it. It shows people that you’re a human being, and you’re giving them the respect of not playing games with them.
So, I love your work, I love the new book, and I love this concept. Thank you!
On June 20th, I was honored to be inducted into the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame – whose members include the top management thinkers of our time.
Like Father Like Son Meaning: Resembling one’s parents in terms of appearance or behavior. Yes. The receding hairline on my forehead and rear part of head do make me resemble like my father but he was dark brown, I am pale brown in skin – may be because my mom was fair skinned.
Back To the Drawing Board Meaning: Starting over again on a new design from a previously failed attempt. To work on the three goals Speaking, Writing, Learning is he only focus. No more mentoring. No more Freebies or free advice to anyone.
Playing For Keeps Meaning: Said when things are about to get serious. The feedback slips which many of Toastmasters handed me after my icebreaker speech really make me believe that “It all starts with a speech”. I am enjoying my Udemy speech and body language lessons and practicing to make videos to self correct as far as possible.
A Piece of Cake Meaning: A task that is simple to accomplish. I thought making and watching my own video of speech would be easy – It is scary. I find my voice and face manners unacceptable to myself.
Give a Man a Fish Meaning: It’s better to teach a person how to do something than to do that something for them. I facilitate many mentees with Equipments as gifts for improving their skills, helping them practice and books to further augment their sharpening of skills. I truly believe in this phrase.
Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed Meaning: Someone who isn’t witty or sharp, but rather, they are ignorant, unintelligent, or senseless. I sometimes behave this way. My friend read my article and said Mirthful – I had to look up Google and then I realised it is pronounced MOUTHFUL and is associated with fun and my friend was actually pr aising me. What a dimwit I am but I learnt new word.
Fight Fire With Fire Meaning: To retaliate with an attack that is similar to the attack used against you. I am a challenger, and I am not under any attack so I think this is a good phrase but not relevant to me and hope it never comes true.
Love Birds Meaning: A pair of people who have a shared love for each other. The number of poems I read on WordPress gives me a sincerely a heart break feeling that we have more lovelorn love lost poets here than love birtds. Would be interesting to know if love birds share poetry with social media?
Drawing a Blank Meaning: Failing to recall a memory. Unable to remember something. That’s usually happening with me especially with names, things. Forgetting to wear a watch, taking keys while going out – small things. Some medication is helping or perhaps not.
Fish Out Of Water Meaning: Someone being in a situation that they are unfamiliar or unsuited for. That is the sinking feeling I used to get dealing with TAble topics at Toastmasters. Slowiy my fish is finding water and depth 🙂 .