“Whoops! How did that get there?” Mistakes we’ve made at Idealist

If you’re a human being, chances are you make a mistake sometimes. And if you’re a celebrity or work for a website, your mistakes automatically get beamed straight to the public eye—d’oh!

Here at Idealist, we strive to make our website as clear, up to date, and mistake-free as possible, but of course we’re human too, and sometimes a little something falls through the cracks.

Take this pull quote I found while thumbing through one of our info centers the other day:


Whoops! I might not be Shakespeare, but I’m pretty sure that editor’s note was not supposed to take center stage here. I’ll take that down now.

Hey, nonprofit celebrities—before you call Bloopers with your own amusing gaffes, why not send them to us? Shoot an email to april@idealist.org and we’ll post the most mistakey of the mistaken.

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Made a mistake? Try looking at it as a work of art


Mistakes are messy. But that’s not always necessarily a bad thing. (Photo via Peter van Broekhoven on Flickr’s Creative Commons.)

We all make mistakes sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Most days I find myself uttering “I’m sorry” or “d’oh!” more than I like to admit.

It’s often these small failures that can send us into a spiraling hole of negativity and cause us to be paralyzed. Taking that next step toward action, then, becomes hard.

So I was relieved to read a recent Brainpickings blog post about philosopher Daniel Dennett’s book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, that encouraged me to look at mistakes in a different way:

The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial when you make a mistake, you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which in a way they are…The trick is to take advantage of the particular details of the mess you’ve made, so that your next attempt will be informed by it and not just another blind stab in the dark.

We have all heard the forlorn refrain “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!” This phrase has come to stand for the rueful reflection of an idiot, a sign of stupidity, but in fact we should appreciate it as a pillar of wisdom. Any being, any agent, who can truly say, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!” is standing on the threshold of brilliance.

So next time you forget a part of your presentation to volunteers or get upset when your plan to attract donors doesn’t come out the way you thought it would, remember: You’re brilliant. And there’s always next time to make it better.

How have you embraced your mistakes and used them to help you take a step forward?

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Do you ask for what you need at work?

Are you afraid to speak up? (Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat, Creative Commons/Flickr)

Recently, Mazarine over at Wild Woman Fundraising shared a list of mistakes she’s made in her career that she hopes others can learn from. While her post focuses on her work as a fundraiser, a major theme is speaking up about her needs when it comes to her work and her relationships with her colleagues. Here are a few a that stood out:

  • Not insisting on monthly “check-ins” with my bosses, when they didn’t want to meet with me. I should have created my own monthly report and sent it to them and to the board.
  • Not creating an “achievement plan” with my bosses, to show how I could move up in the organization, and what my metrics would be in the first year and in the second year working for them.
  • Not having the “how do you like to communicate” conversation with my boss, which led to frustration because I didn’t want text messages and he didn’t want to answer his phone, read his email, or look at me when I came to see him.
  • Confiding in board members about my issues with my boss, as they did not care and did nothing to help solve the issues, even after my boss was found stealing several times.
  • Working so hard that I got sick with bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Not making sure that taking care of myself & my time with family and friends was my first priority.
  • Not asking questions more of my peers and mentors in fundraising and in other fields.
  • Thinking that I could really do it all in a fundraising shop, with 3 people’s jobs, when I ended up doing 10 things badly, when I could have done one or two things well.

How many of us have made mistakes like this in our career? Not asking for what we need, not setting boundaries, and not having clear expectations can easily make work unbearable, yet it seems difficult to speak up.

Do you struggle with asking for what you need at work? Have you made these mistakes?


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