The best mistake of: Suzanne Mau-Asam
“My gut feeling said: don’t do this. I ignored it. Afterwards it turned out that my feeling was right.”
Sometimes we are too afraid of making mistakes, that out of fear for the possible consequences, we don’t take any action. Afraid to fail, afraid about what our environment thinks about it, afraid that it doesn’t fit in our “Instagrammable perfect life”…
Which is such a shame, because making mistakes is THE way to learn and develop yourself. That is why we at Doors Open celebrate making mistakes! Every month we interview entrepreneurs, leaders, professional athletes… People who, just like you, have gotten to where they are by failing and standing up again. They share their best mistake: a mistake which has taught them a lot and has helped them greatly in their development.
In this edition
Residence: The Hague
Profession: Founder and owner of Doors Open (Learning & Development company) and Doors Open Female Hub (coworking & co-learning for female entrepreneurs)
What is your best mistake?
“In January 2018, next to Doors Open, I opened the Female Hub. That was quite some work: I had to search for a suitable location, this needed to be renovated and marketing needed to start running. And all this in 3 months time and ‘in between all the companies’, as I also continued with Doors Open giving leadership trainings, Learning & Development advices and team building sessions. As I also work a lot on my own development, my plan was to travel to California for a training to become a somatic coach at the Strozzi Institute. But this collided with the date of the opening and the first weeks of the Female Hub. Hence I needed operational support. Someone who could run the place while I was gone. Via a friend of mine I got a tip for someone that was ‘was really good’.”
“I lost revenue and additional costs incurred because of this. I ended the cooperation, but obviously was not able to catch up for the lost weeks.”
“So I had an interview with this freelancer. My gut feeling said ‘Suzanne, you should not do this. You are not on the same page. I am sure she cannot deliver what you need’. I ignored the feeling, tried to rationalize it. Certainly I can trust my friend’s opinion, right? And even more importantly: I needed someone, and didn’t have enough time to find an alternative.
The uncomfortable feeling stayed. When I handed over the keys of the Female Hub I was still not 100% convinced that this was the right decision. Still, I got on the plane. Again I tried to let my reasoning prevail. ‘You can call from the US, Skype, e-mail and keep control of what is going on in the Hub’.
When I got back from the US however, it turned out that I should have listened to my gut feeling. Tasks were not done according to the instructions and the quality level was far from what I and my partners would have expected. I lost revenue and additional costs incurred because of this. I ended the cooperation, but obviously was not able to catch up for the lost weeks that I was absent.”
“It is scientifically proven that the front part of your brain works less well when you are under pressure.”
What did you learn from this?
“Three important lessons. Firstly, the fact that someone is you friend does not necessarily mean that he or she has the same vision in business matters. Business relations are very different from friendships. It is important to be aware of this and to keep things separate. That does not mean that you can never work together with friends. But you do have to make sure that you are on the same page when it comes to entrepreneurship and doing business. I think that is one of the reasons why I enjoy working with people who have, like me, studied at Hotelschool. I feel like they have the same way of thinking and working. You really don’t always have to agree on everything, but you have to be on the same page regarding the most important topics. Within these topics your opinions and insights can still differ.
Secondly, thanks to this situation I was once more confronted with the fact that it is so important to listen to your gut feeling. Sure, big data, analysis of statistics, technology, it’s all important to companies. I also set targets for my business, I analyse the “hard” facts, but in the end I think that ‘doing things by feeling’ is just as important. That feeling is there for a reason. This regularly goes unnoticed in our society, which is a shame.
Finally this mistake made me realise how important it is to take a short break, when you are stressed. It is scientifically proven that the front part of your brain works less well when you are under pressure. This leads to a higher chance of making the wrong decisions. It can really help to “sleep on it” for a night to see things from an new perspective.”
Was there an alternative which could have prevented you from making this mistake?
“My alternative was, to postpone the opening of the Female Hub. This would have allowed me to take a calm decision and I could have chosen for a different partner. I did however really want to let the opening go on. Looking back, I don’t think I would have done it differently.”
What have you been doing differently after this mistake?
“I am handling my feelings more consciously. At work I increasingly use somatics techniques. In contrast to more traditional methods, where the IQ (intelligence) and EQ (emotions) are seen as separate, this theory assumes that humans do not consist of separate parts, but that body, brain and soul are one.
Somatics techniques help you to rely on your feelings more consciously, which can be very valuable both for your private and professional life. It teaches you to reflect continuously: what do I feel and why do I feel this? It also helps you to not always make choices à la minute. There is no need to do so. Unless it is a matter of life and death, for example if there is a house on fire.
I cannot really say I am happy that I have made this mistake, but I have learned a lot from it. And that’s what is going to help me in my further development!
Do you want to share your best mistake? Share it to firstname.lastname@example.org! Maybe you are the next feature on our blog!