Joanne Harris posted a fantastic statement about failure the other day:
Making mistakes is natural. But admitting a mistake, observing it, learning from it and moving on with the knowledge of how not to make it again and the intention to do better – that’s courage.— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) August 8, 2021
In the therapy and coaching room, admitting failure is not obvious. I still meet professionals who believe that keeping their mistakes to themselves is better – the clients will trust their professionalism less knowing about mistakes.
Personally, this makes no sense to me whatsoever. Not admitting a mistake is a huge breach of trust in what is to be a healing and helpful relationship. We all make mistakes, that is how we learn. Admitting mistakes builds trust and thus reputation too.
However, as Harris said, admitting failure takes a lot of courage. We practice it in counselling under the umbrella of humanistic congruence, but it’s not always easy. Admitting mistakes means we need to hold the space to the client’s reaction and work much harder afterwards on doing better.
If we don’t admit a mistake, we can easily, quietly move on. But it’s not the right thing to do.