I first came across this expression when I was working as a door supervisor (Bouncer) at a night club.  I guy I had let in was on the banned list and I missed it - he got thrown out and I was beaten up - by myself for making such an error!  A colleague came up to me and said “mate, don’t worry about it, Monkeys sometimes fall out of trees…”  Initially I didn’t get what he meant but eventually I got it and it stuck with me ever since.

If a creature that has evolved over millennia to its environment can make a mistake (and fall out of its tree) then so can we - mistakes happen.  It doesn’t mean we don’t try to avoid and reduce them but the key thing is what we do as a result. 

That night I realised I had a choice; Huff about, ruminating over what’s just happened or worry about the future (I thought I was gonna get a rollicking from the boss).  Or learn from it, take ownership, be thankful that others were able to see what I didn’t, and use it to become a better person - to become a more useful and effective member of the team rather than focusing on the only time I’d made such a mistake.

It was one of those seemingly inconsequential moments in life but has clearly stayed with me (it was about 20yrs ago).

For me now it represents a principle that I’ve regularly applied in life to stay focused on learning from the mistake. To gain a win from a loss and grow as a result.

When it came to creating and naming this project it just made sense to use this expression.  We are all capable of making mistakes - you could almost say its inevitable.  Not learning from them, not proactively working to reduce or negate them - that’s a choice and one we all have the ability, and willingness to make.  However there are a host of factors that can impede our ability to be the person we wish to be.   Attending to these factors can create improvements in mental clarity, objectivity and allow us to better manage self limiting beliefs and habits.  

At first this project was about reducing mistakes but I quickly came to realise that the same proactive approach could enhance outcomes for clients, staff and organisations as well as reduce mistakes and improve procedural adherence.   That we can use it to protect and upgrade judgement making skills as well as repair weak ones.

Authorjp Edgington

The potential benefits and possible consequences, positive and negative outcomes are opposite ends of the same stick, that stick being your job or role.

 And you cant have one end without the other.

If I take this analogy further then if you pick up one end of the stick and leave the other on the ground you effectively render the stick useless,  what can you do with it? you may as well not have it.

Further to this when you pick up your stick you need to assume ownership of all that it entails - you need to take responsibility for both ends.

Our actions can lead to a whole spectrum of outcomes good and bad and whilst we can't always control or guarantee the outcome we can control our actions and the decisions that led to them.  

Now there will always be things that are outside of our control but there are more elements of our day to day that are within our control than we probably realise or maybe even want to admit. 

So what we need to achieve here is a better perspective on the bigger picture - on how the great benefits and the serious consequences are often only a couple of decisions away.  Keeping this in mind can be a very effective guide during the decision making process.

In some ways it’s this loss of the ‘big picture view’ that can cause the normalisation of deviance or lead us into certain heuristic traps and I’ll talkmore about those at a later date.

To put it another way its like walking around only being able to see 3 feet in front of you - the terms ‘narrow minded’ or ‘short sighted’ could be applicable here too.

Don’t get me wrong its essential that we focus on the immediate, but not exclusively and not at the expense of the bigger or wider picture.

If you ride a mountain bike down a section of fast sweeping single track then you need to switch between focusing on the terrain just ahead of you and every so often glancing up to make sure you’re on the right track, can adjust for upcoming obstacles, pick the best line and avoid hitting that low hanging branch.  

A balanced view is what’s required and will greatly assist in making decisions that lead us to the positive outcomes we’re after and whilst keeping us away form the negative ones….

Authorjp Edgington

I mean REALLY value and appreciate them - Genuinely, personally and specifically.

A generic email or a token speech at the xmas dinner doesn't cut it.

Let get straight to the summary here and then go into it in detail for those that are time short.

  • Happier/more fulfilled  people make better decisions.
  • Feeling valued and appreciated (genuinely) is a fundamental human need.
  • You care about them and they're more likely to care about you (and your organisation). If they believe what you believe about the aim and aspirations of the organisation they will be more proactive in making decisions that benefit, protect or progress those aims.
  • You don't care about them and its highly unlike that they will give a damn about you or what ever it is you want them to  do.
  • Everyone wants to feel that they've done a good job regardless of the job - tell them so and they are way more likely to repeat it or even do a better one next time if they think they might get more appreciation.

Here's the thing though - the key is to put considered effort into it and value and appreciate people when they do exactly or only what you ask or pay them to do - not just when they go 'above and beyond'.   

In fact I'm going to go so far as to say that if you did nothing else BUT put time and effort into genuinely, specifically and personally valuing your staff - you would see a big, positive  difference in what I call the key three areas of an organisation or business - these being Client experience/customer service -robust safety standards - working environment. 

Scenario 1

Don't Genuinely, personally and specifically value and appreciate your staff consistently = A very high likelihood of them not really caring about you, your organisation or your clients (yes there will always be exceptions - or rather exceptional people - but even these have limits).

Scenario 2

Do Genuinely, personally and specifically value and appreciate your staff consistently = A very high likelihood of them really caring about you, your organisation and your clients (yes there are exceptions here too).

Think of a time when you worked somewhere and you really didn't like. your job.  Was it the job? Initially you might think so but take a minute and ask your self whether the manager, owner, team leader etc valued you? Did you feel appreciated? I doubt it. 

Even the seemingly most mundane jobs can seem ok if you feel that the effort and contribution you've put in matters - cleaning the toilet, keeping the store room tidy, answering calls on reception, stacking shelves, handing out leaflets in the street - if your manager or boss really valued your efforts then you felt a lot better about doing it.

So now as you are the manager, chief instructor, CO, team leader, business owner the appreciation and valuing of your staff is your primary concern - you take care of them, THEY take care of the business/clients and the clients take care of the bottom line etc by coming back and so on.


A. Look at scenario 1 and write down three ways in which that will help your business/organisation.

B. Look at scenario 2 and write down three ways in which that will help your business/organisation

C. Think of three ways that you can begin to improve the way you appreciate and value your staff. There are some examples below but make sure you make it specific to YOUR staff. *

D. Finally commit to trying this for 30 days - 

*  - No it won't be a quick fix.

 - Yes you do have time and it will actually save you time. (examples: think of how much time it costs you to recruit new staff or deal will underperforming staff.

- Yes it might require you to swallow some pride, you might need to 'get out of your own way'.

Ways to value and appreciate your staff

  • Challenge them - reward their skills and knowledge by using it and stretching them.
  • Appreciate the small things - even if it's what you pay them to do - even if they've done exactly or only what they're supposed to - appreciate it - because if they hadn't done it your life would be a little (or a lot) more hassle and you chase, sort, fight fires, deal with complaints etc..
  • Have empathy - their family, friends, interests, issues, 
  • Show them how much their efforts mean to you AND to their colleagues.
  • Remind them of the 'bigger picture" impact that they've had. 

Authorjp Edgington