The Fine Art of Eating Crow

Making Mistakes

Making mistakes is an amazingly meaningful and important component of learning and growth.  We have to do it.  If we didn’t do it we would run the risk of stagnation.  Without mistake making, we could forget that stumbling is a wonderful way to learn balance, that falling is great start to getting up, and that failing is an incredible tool for understanding what it takes to succeed.  I am a true Edisonian (it’s a word now).  I love that Edison got giddy about making mistakes!  I appreciate that he checked failed attempts off of his list, watching the list morph into an expansive doctrine on how not to do stuff, create things, and achieve goals.

The bigger the list got, the closer he came to doing that stuff, creating those things, and achieving those goals.  Best of all, when folks laughed, told him so, or gave up on him, it didn’t cross his mind to join them.  It wasn’t important that they believed or gave him any kind of credit for forward progress.  He just wanted to make good things happen.  He yearned to be a factor in positive change.  However, the positive change was the reward, not being the factor.

Being Right v Doing Right

Creating a light bulb is about offering people a mechanism by which to see with clarity in dark places.  We in education can relate because we have a very similar intended outcome.  We seek to bring light into dark places too.  We work to facilitate processes by which those we serve are able to maximize, and even exceed their potential.  We believe in what others might consider impossible.  We understand that the world we are ever-preparing for is in many ways beyond even our most outstretched imaginations.  We know that we don’t know.  We seek to know more every day.  We push ourselves to the max.  We hope.  We dream.  We believe.  Nowhere in the core of the values that drive us does “rightness” play a role.  It ain’t easy, in part, because we are regularly bombarded by voices that insist we’re wrong.  Ironically, many among us consider those voices, not in self-defeatist ways, but in reflective ways.

Educators are a kooky bunch of do-gooders who would much prefer to do the right things than to be the ones who are right.  At our core, we want our communities to learn and grow, whoever those learning and growth paths are paved by.  I believe that it behooves us to consider that as we walk through the fast paced, high intensity, and sometimes-exhausting world of our daily lives.  It’s hard though.  When frustration creeps in, we can always fall back on the action part of “rightness” and ask ourselves, “what’s important here?”

Have you ever moved forward with consensus, failed, then looked up at faces that were no longer consenced (probably not a word…but you get it)?  Have those faces ever worked to cut you down with assertions like, “Wow you really dropped the ball there!” or, “Ouch, you couldn’t have been more ineffective at that?”  Casting blame, pointing fingers, and other sundry attempts to deflect or distract should actually be considered boons for educational/organizational leaders!  They give us opportunities to model value driven professionalism and maturity, to show those we serve that even when the road is long and windy we are better off to tread with optimism, and to thicken our skin (which can help everyone focus).

I don’t prefer to cast generalizations.  However, every experience I’ve had leads me to firmly believe that being right is almost entirely inconsequential in the face of authentic learning and growth.  Remember that while process is key, we should always keep our eyes on the prize.  Student achievement, positive cultural development, learning, growth, fulfillment, and joyfulness perpetuate enhanced communities.  Arguments and extensive perseveration over who’s right, who’s wrong, or whose idea it was, diminish communities, weaken systems, and distract from the incredibly important work we do.

Don’t Over-Chew

So, eat that crow folks, and don’t over chew.  Swallow it like a pill and move on with your life.  Keep it light hearted and positive.  When people point out the messes you make, the balls you drop, the mistakes, the challenges, and the errors along your path, own all of it and thank them.  Then, ask for their help in moving forward.  Give them the voice that they need.  Offer autonomy inside of your partnerships, distribute credit for achievement, and overtly appreciate those you serve for their dedication, hard work, and contributions.

Remember that you are but a link in this chain.  Celebrate the strength of team, reserve pride for your own reflective growth, and help others understand that you are ready to take responsibility for positive progress, even when that means eating crow.  The more you practice, the easier it becomes, and the more impactful you will be on other individuals’ ability to see past distracting behaviors and into value/goal driven professional practice.  Besides, crow isn’t so bad with a dab of ketchup.  Just don’t put your foot in your mouth…that really stinks!


Dream Big.  Work Hard.  Be Well.


    • bergseye

      Thanks Christine…I really appreciate the feedback! As you know, it’s not always easy, but I do believe that it’s almost always the way to go:). It all goes back to that question: what is really important here? The answer is almost never: that I’m right:). Have a great week!

  1. Casey Wescott

    Certainly some food for thought. Reflecting on owning mistakes, I would add that those around you will respect a peer or leader who owns mistakes. That vulnerability and up-frontedness (made that word up for you) helps to create a culture where crucial conversations are framed in a safe environment and are the norm. At the same time it is important for peers and leaders to be able to have crucial conversations when choices are negatively impacting students instead of pretending they issues don’t exist.

    • bergseye

      Great point Casey! Thanks for reading and providing your perspective. I really appreciate the insightful reflection (and the wonderful made up word:))! Have a great week!

  2. Lyn

    Oh, I so needed this today. Friday I was beating myself up for a mistake rather than using it to learn and move forward. Great reminder for me. I need to keep remembering what I tell my staff counts for me as well. Have a great week!

    • bergseye

      Thanks Lyn…I’m so glad to hear it! I think we can all relate to the “beating myself up” routine. It’s so easy to get to that place in our line of work…things move so quickly and there seems to be so much resting on our decision making, our words, and our actions. We want everything to go just as we would have hoped for those that we serve. I sometimes find myself having to work hard at taking my own advice too. Some things are easier said than done:)! Sounds like your on the right track for a great week…thanks again, and enjoy!

  3. Jeff


    This is a great post, not only for staff, but also for students. Too often we (school, parents, etc) don’t let them make mistakes or fail. Think abut the Olympic athlete or inventor or musician, their lives are a series of failure that eventually lead to success. Learn form ones mistake and owning it is part of self-improvement.
    After all pencils have erasers for a reason!

    • bergseye

      Awesome Jeff…well articulated! I appreciate the insights. I’m reminded each day that you’re exactly right, still, it’s not always easy to work through those kinds of challenges. Your reminder that the best of the best struggle through multiple failures on their paths to success is an important one! Thanks again…wonderful input! Enjoy the week!

  4. Joshua Berg

    Brother, great post. Ironically, I believe this time you are right.. However, in order to fuel the fire, I will gladly point out the many times you have been wrong 😉 You’re welcome.

    • bergseye

      Thanks Josh…Glad I can always count on family for a dose of reality:)! I appreciate the read and the support. The truth is, the more I’m wrong, the more I get to learn! Say hi to the gang and enjoy that beautiful California weather…I’m looking out the window at another wonderful Michigan blizzard! Be well!

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