Business & Economy Startups The confessions of a compulsive serial mistake-monger

The confessions of a compulsive serial mistake-monger




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What keeps me motivated all the time? “The freedom to make repeated mistakes”


“Embargo”, cries out my smartphone every morning at around 8 ‘o’ clock.

I set this reminder on the phone very recently. I wanted to make sure I don’t publish another embargoed press release, though unintentionally, before the official embargo ends.

I am fed up with myself repeating the same careless mistakes, not twice but three-four times. I don’t want be looked like an idiot any more by making careless mistakes and apologising to the aggrieved parties almost repeatedly.

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“We can tolerate mistakes, but cannot tolerate mistakes of this nature,” my boss told me when I broke the embargoed press release of a startup’s fund-raising round a few days ago. “We should understand funding is the culmination of a startup’s months of hard work, and we disrespect their embargoes means we don’t value their hard work.”

I needed to be more careful, I said to myself.

However, within just a few days, I made a similar mistake. Everyone was working on Echelon 2018 stuff, and the editorial team (with just two people working that day) was slightly under pressure to push out stories to get things going. And I did it again.

I knew I was in trouble.

I pinged my boss on Slack to tell him I have let him down once again. “I know a mere apology will not suffice the mistake I have made… but I will handle it,” I told him.

Also Read: Why making mistakes is actually good for business

But to my astonishment, he showed extraordinary calmness and replied with poise: “Since this is Echelon time, I have become far more forgiving. But please, please, please,” he ‘pleaded’ to me with a ‘folded-hands’ emoticon .

I knew I should slow down. I should be extra careful. I cannot let my carelessness, which I have been battling since my childhood, take a toll on me any longer. I need to find an advisor/secretary, who can remind me when I go wrong. This is when I trusted my phone to do the job every morning, so I don’t ‘transgress’.


“How long have you been with this company,” my Indian friends often ask me.

“More then three-and-half years.”

“Wow, that is a long period. What makes you stay here for such a long time?”

“The freedom to make mistakes.”

Three-and-half years. That’s the longest period I have worked in any company in my 10-plus years’ professional career. For someone who recommends friends to not continuously work in an organisation for more than two years, this is a record.

I realise you are working in a company for a long period means you have now found your comfort zone. “Comfort zone is a trap,” the editor of my former employer told me. “Unless you get out of it, it can even destroy your career.”

I knew that already. But moving out of the current job is hard for so many reasons. Finding a better workplace, which lets my imagination run wild, is even harder. I don’t think I could find a better employer, which allows me to repeat mistakes multiple times. So I better stay here.

To be honest, had I not been given the freedom to experiment and make mistakes, I would probably have left this company long ago. For many of my friends who work for Indian companies, the freedom to experiment and make mistakes is very limited. But here I not only enjoy that freedom, but I “make the most of it” (You know what I mean).

I now want to enter uncharted territory and learn new things. I have already communicated this to the management, and I hopefully will enter that territory soon.

But have I learnt my lessons from my past mistakes yet?

Former Indian cricket team captain and accomplished sportsman, MS Dhoni, once said in a TV interview (I don’t remember the exact wordings, but it roughly means this): “Most of us tend to repeat the same mistakes again and again. But we need to make sure to increase the time gap between the same mistake when you do it next time.”

I am learning this art from him.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash


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