Save a Life, Talk About Your Mistakes

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Here's the dirty little secret about failure: Everyone's done it, and way more than you'd think. In fact, it's possible to argue that the people you look up to the most — the people who have achieved the most in their lives — are those who are most comfortable with screwing up. Being able to talk freely about times you came up short isn't just a useful skill. It can change everything for the better.

A new study looks into whether there's a connection between patient mortality at hospitals and whether those hospitals have a culture of openness. That means more than feeling secure enough to talk about employee failure; the study calls it "an environment in which staff freely speak up if they see something that may negatively affect a patient and feel free to question those with more authority." Hospitals that scored higher on openness all had something in common: lower mortality rates.

Not every job is life or death, thankfully, but this research has some interesting and useful implications for any business or team. We already know that thinking about stress in a mindful way can actually lower future stress, and that one of the best way to learn from our mistakes is to let ourselves feel our feelings about them. Being open with people you trust can also keep unbridled optimism in check when a dose of realism is the best way forward. Beyond crowdsourcing ways to improve in the future, trusting your colleagues with your own shortcomings is prime bonding material.

You don't have to get bogged down with venting — a toxic workplace never helped anyone, after all — but in most cases, letting yourself be vulnerable can help you be stronger in the end.