Life Lab: One Minute Reprimands


Over the last several weeks, I have been trying to implement the concepts of the One Minute Manager to improve my self-management. I recently wrote about how much I suck at One Minute Praisings, the practice of taking one minute to specifically point out my successes. This week, I want to write about how awesome I am at One Minute Reprimands!

As you may have guessed, One Minute Reprimands are the practice of taking one minute to specifically identify mistakes that need to be corrected.  And I’m great at it!

In fact, I’m so great at these that I can go on for far more than one minute. I can let a One Minute Reprimand last hours, days, or even weeks! Aren’t I amazing! I mean, who doesn’t want to relive their failures time and time again, hour after hour, minute after minute for the rest of their life! Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I may be exaggerating (somewhat), but this Life Lab has been teaching me an incredibly important lesson: it’s ok to make mistakes, because mistakes don’t define me.

I feel like there are generally two schools of thought when it comes to mistakes:

  1. Success is the only option (i.e. no mistakes are acceptable)
  2. Mistakes or failure are acceptable if it leads to future success

The first school of thought demands perfection (i.e. winning) every moment of every day. Losing isn’t an option. And yet, that’s not practical. That’s not really even possible (which tends to lead to a lot of cheating, but that’s another topic for another day).

I’ve made mistakes. Many of them. But I don’t consider myself a failure. So clearly, I don’t hold to this viewpoint.

The other school of thought seems much more appealing. It says that mistakes are ok as long as they lead to future success. Many popular success stories feature these early missteps and failures, such as Thomas Edison’s infamous 1000 attempts at inventing the light bulb.

This is a popular point of view, and one that I held for a long time. And yet, sometimes I make a mistake more than once, meaning I obviously didn’t learn my “lesson” the first time. Sometimes I make mistakes that have no future value at all. According to this school of thought, these are true failures as there is no benefit to be gained from them.

This mindset ruled my life for years, to consistently detrimental effect. Every time I would have one of those true failures – where I screw up with no potential for future added value – I couldn’t help but take it personally. Looking through the lens of the Mana Matrix, this translates into a negative impact to both my Self-Valuation and Confidence. It’s hard to think positively about yourself when faced with such a valueless failure.

The approach in the One Minute Manager, though, has been teaching me that there is a third option. While one of the key components in the One Minute Reprimand is, of course, the reprimand, there is another critical element that is too often forgotten. The One Minute Reprimand requires that we simultaneously recognize our ongoing value.

This value isn’t the “future value” of learning from our mistakes. It is our current value, mistakes and all. In other words, it’s a way of saying that mistakes are ok because people make mistakes. And it turns out, I’m a person. Who makes mistakes.

This changed mindset has had a tangible impact on my personal energy. By taking the time to recognize my current value, I refute the idea of being a failure, even while I address the results of one.  This prevents the negative impact to Self-Valuation and Confidence. But the benefits don’t stop there. When we take time to remember how awesome we are, we can’t help but increase our Self-Valuation and Confidence! So instead of losing energy, this mindset results in a gain!

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’ve lived for too long with the idea of taking these things personally to just let go of that old way of thinking overnight. But with the One Minute Reprimand, I’m ready to correct that mistaken mindset and remind myself of my ongoing value!

See you at the finish line!

-The Jack of Spades


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