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Make the Other Mistake

A powerful approach I’ve embraced in my career is “making the other mistake.”  The premise of this approach is that for behaviors we are trying to change, we generally have a natural tendency to fall onto a certain side of the “mistake” with our regular behavior.  However, if we try to go so extreme as to make the OTHER mistake, we will land in the happy medium.  Our natural tendencies will hold us back from actually making the other mistake.

An area I had to make the other mistake earlier in my career was being direct.  I wanted to be nice and polite (just like many women are trained to be) so I would sometimes skirt around the issue.  This came to a head when I worked in a new product area with new partners.  I knew their strategy would likely churn customers in the long run due to growing the product before it was ready.

I worked towards making the other mistake by aiming to share my perspective too directly, too bluntly!  Of course, the email I ended up with was completely normal and fine - but clearer than my original version.  This is how it goes when you try to make the other mistake - your natural tendency will still ring loud and clear, so it’s doubtful you will actually make the other mistake.

Over time, by continuing to try to be too direct, I learned to be an appropriate amount direct that also fit my natural style.   By continuously practicing being more direct, I worked my way toward a happy medium response AND grew my comfort zone of directness through continuous practice.

So, what’s one area where you want to try making the other mistake?

Balance scale on colorful table background


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