Are Your Mistakes a Knowing Problem Or A Doing Problem? - BY KATHY DIXON MOTHERHUSTLE
“Go out and make the most intelligent mistakes you’re capable of. Remember that you are an eternal student, a convicted steward, and a grateful parent and entrepreneur.”

“Mistake” can be such a heavy word depending on its context. This one word has endless ways of being arrived to with an even more extensive list of reasons why.

Some mistakes are made in the impulse of the moment. Others are the product of being inside our heads and reacting versus responding to a situation. My personal favorites are the self-inflicted mistakes that we arrive to by pure avoidance and denial of the red flags we see.

Regardless of what route we took to get to said mistake, the end feelings are fairly similar:

A labeling of failure, a questioning of our abilities, a hopefully only momentary knock to our self-esteem, and the lingering question of, “what’s next?”

Y’all, this essay was especially hard for me to write. Not because I’ve been graced with a winning record or because I view myself as a general mile marker of success — quite the opposite actually! This essay was a tough one because I, the person who knows myself the best, have in sharp focus the girl who is brimming with imperfections yet is a business woman who has been entrusted to lead others.

In quickly jogging my memory to share the professional mistakes I’ve made, the list became too quick and too long to share in deep-detail. But for those of you who are still insisting on perfection as your benchmark of success, allow me to normalize your hardships through a recounting of my own failures. In no particular order, here are a few of my most memorable ones:

Underpricing my services in fear of losing business. Unspoken expectations with clients and my team. Hiring the wrong people too fast and firing these same wrong people too slow. Allowing myself to be swayed by industry trends instead of sticking to my core services. Allowing months to go by with inaction because of a general lack of knowledge about what was next. Having no boundaries in my personal life. Putting little forethought to the processes needed to sustain my business. Avoiding community for far too long.

The list of personal mistakes are better kept for another time, friends.

Are you feeling any better yet?

All joking aside, here’s the thing: regret and gratitude are close first cousins. Just like love and hate, and joy and sadness, the spectrum between the two is actually quite short.

Growth can’t happen in a vacuum, and we can’t capitalize on the shortcomings we have yet to live. It’s like a personal testimony of sorts. And this age-old lesson is one we’ve been learning from the moment we came into this world. The tragedy isn’t in failure because, in a way, it’s the gateway to next-level growth. The tragedy lies in potentially allowing the failures we experience to steal the confidence and self-esteem we need to keep going.

So how should we regroup when these unsettling times inevitably come?

#1: For starters, you can’t fix what you haven’t identified.

With the more mistakes I make, the more I see the need for pause and reflection. Asking yourself questions such as: where did we go wrong? How can we improve this? Is there a quick fix or is this a complete overhaul? will allow insight into how to go about correcting things.

#2: From there, I’ve learned to love and seek processes and accountability in everything we do.

If there is no process, it cannot be replicated with the magic sauce you bring — which means that whatever service or product you’re providing your clients with live or die with you. Dramatic? Perhaps! But very true.

#3: Ask for input and support if needed.

My husband is my most vocal cheerleader, and my family now understands after almost 5 years in business that what I do is actually a profession and not a hobby. But neither one of these groups of people, who happen to love me fiercely, provide much value when it comes to strategy and execution. Find your top 3 or 4 business mentors and besties. Pour into each other’s businesses and let them get real with you — leaving hurt feelings aside. Not sure how to find these people? Get involved in the online communities, attend the free local meet ups, and engage instead of absorbing it all when you’re there.

One of our long-standing clients is also someone I happen to respect greatly because of his excellent leadership of more than 50 team members. In one of our many lengthy conversations, something he said has stuck with me all this time:

“Kathy, when someone is underperforming — it’s either a knowing problem or a doing problem. If it’s a knowing problem, that’s a quick fix because I can teach anyone just about anything in this business. But if it’s a doing problem — well, then it gets more complicated because it’s hard to teach motivation.”

So sweet friends, are your mistakes a knowing problem or a doing problem?

Wherever you’re at in this moment — professionally and personally — remember that it’s OK to grow slow. In fact, time and processes are your best friends in creating a rock-solid foundation. Just be careful not to interpret that as a pass for inaction.

What doesn’t move can’t grow.

Go out and make the most intelligent mistakes you’re capable of. Remember that you are an eternal student, a convicted steward, and a grateful parent and entrepreneur. There’s just one mistake I pray we each start making less of: forgetting to be grace-filled with ourselves along the way.


MotherHustle panelist Kathy Dixon is the founder and creative director of Oh Yes Communications. It won’t take you long to discover her love for her wild toddler, Air Force hubby, and her heart for Jesus. When she’s not buzzing around town, she’s usually at the gym lifting heavy things — although these days, it looks more like (not so) patiently waiting for her second son to arrive (due mid-September!).

Kathy says: “This entrepreneur journey has been something special. I have yet to hear someone’s story that hasn’t inspired me in someway. It’s the reason why I dodge small talk. I know first hand what the power of encouragement and sharing your story can do and it’s why I always push my clients to be bold with theirs.” Find her and Oh Yes on Instagram. 

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