I made a mistake. It felt like a big one.
My oldest daughter, Avi, lost her fifth tooth recently. Daily, we had been checking on the wiggliness of the tooth and wondering together what day would be the one where it pops out. Sure enough, a carrot did the trick and out it came during a camp lunch.
The owner of the camp gives kids a buck when that happens, and she came home that day with a buck in hand, and her tooth in a ziplock bag.
That night, we put the bag under the pillow, and talked about the Tooth Fairy. At 6 ½—she insists on adding the ½, and Steve and I will comply—she’s a believer. She has faith in the Tooth Fairy. And that makes my heart happy.
Here’s the mistake, and I bet you can guess where this is going.
I forgot to swap out the tooth for a $5 bill.
She walked into our bathroom the next morning, with her bag in hand, held high, and a look that only could mean huge disappointment.
I blew it, and I felt awful.
She was silent. “You look really disappointed,” I said, wondering how I was going to handle this, and what a slacker Tooth Fairy does in this case.
“I’m sad and I’m mad,” Avi said.
“I get it,” I said, “I would be, too. I think the Tooth Fairy must have made a mistake.”
Everyone Makes Mistakes
We’ve been working on Avi’s perfectionist tendencies (that she got from me!), and have been tracking mistakes of all kinds, hoping to help her know that everyone makes mistakes and very few are not correctable.
Other parents have helped me put this into perspective. Many have told me that they’ve been there, too.
The Value of Mistakes and a Lesson for Leaders
There’s a lesson here for leaders, as well. When’s the last time you were vulnerable with your team and shared a mistake, and the lessons learned? The value of mistakes is what we can learn from them.
We’re all human, and sometimes we blow it. We make a mistake.
As my Mom used to say, “What matters is what you do after the mistake happens.”
That’s a lesson anyone can sink their teeth into!
What mistake might you share with your team?
By David Grossman, Founder & CEO of The Grossman Group