What was by mistake great

Failed great?

Making mistakes is now considered cool. At least on the “fuck-up nights” when entrepreneurs confess their flops. In other areas, however, mistakes are far from being a small talk topic.

Music entrepreneur Patrick Wagner suffered one bankruptcy after another. Today he spreads his story with relish in front of a cheering audience - to Fuck-
up-nights in Berlin. “To fuck up” means doing one thing right
to screw up. Wagner hung out with stars like Nirvana in the 1990s. He was a co-owner of the hip little record company Kitty Yo. Then he fell out with his partner at the label and got out. He later founded the Louisville record company. Out of 17 albums he released, only three were profitable. Endless debts were the result.

Such flop confessions are also popular in Switzerland, for example at ETH Zurich. Managers report on stage about how they ruined their company. The deeper the fall, the more exuberant the mood in the audience. The message: only those who have mastered a crisis are successful.

Mistakes lead to ingenious random inventions

Various advisors also propagate the cleansing power of setbacks. In his book “The Beauty of Failure”, the philosopher Charles Pépin shows how failures put famous people like Darwin, Churchill, Steve Jobs and J. K. Rowling on the right track. Fall down, get up, straighten the crown again: It's not that simple, however. Whether mistakes are interpreted as cool or unforgivable depends on the area. In design or in science, mistakes can result in ingenious coincidental inventions. In medicine, however, a mistake can have fatal consequences. A mountain guide can tear his group into the abyss by misjudging the weather situation. Even with a crane operator, the push of a button can make the difference between life and death.

Doctors struggle with unfulfillable demands

In her recently published book «The mistake that changed my life», Gina Bucher tells of the responsibility that medical professionals take on. A doctor who made a wrong move tells her story. She accidentally injects a vein into a patient's spinal cord. The doctor notices her mistake immediately. But there is no turning back. Nothing happens for a week. But then the woman begins to paralyze. The fingertips and hands go numb. Finally she is paralyzed up to the neck. The doctor reports her mistake. She is convicted and punished in court. 16 years later, she continues to struggle with feelings of guilt: “The shame is still there. My suffering is in no relation to the damage I have caused. "

Doctors also have an error rate. "It's just that we're not allowed to do it," says the doctor. “On the one hand, we are no longer the gods in white. Even so, patients expect you to work like a god. Namely, error-free. " A contradiction that has to be endured. The doctor has a number of colleagues who have changed jobs because of this. Who say to themselves: "I made a mistake and can't handle it."

A nurse who confided in the author also made fatal care mistakes. Two people died. She kept this a secret, but years later the ghosts of the past caught up with them. She founded a self-help group, but couldn't find anyone who wanted to join.

For her book, journalist Gina Bucher asked 20 people in Germany and Switzerland about their failure: murderers, bank robbers, adulterers, drug addicts, work addicts. People who have made mistakes, lost loved ones, a lot of money, their health or their reputation. And who have had a guilty conscience with them for years. Like a banker infected with HIV. In the 1990s he led a dissolute party life, with lots of love affairs - often without a condom. “Despite knowing that I was making a mistake, I made it. Every time I thought that it wouldn't hit me. " After the infection, everything changed for him. At some point he realized: "I had to go this way to find out who I am."

"The company failed - not me"

For start-up companies, a messed up business is almost “normal” because the rate is brutal: only one in ten companies prevails on the market. “Failure can even be useful as an experience,” says one entrepreneur who speaks in the book. But he also describes how he had to lay off twelve employees. That gnawed at his confidence. But it also became clear to him that “you have to separate personal from professional failure”. Those who are professionally grounded do not necessarily fail at other levels as well. “The company failed, not me,” he says to himself - and makes a fresh attempt.
During her research, Gina Bucher noticed that men and women deal differently with mistakes. “Men tend to repress, they tend to say, 'It's just an occupational risk', roll up their sleeves and carry on. Women deal so intensely with their mistakes that they often block themselves. " The middle ground would be: clearly naming mistakes in your job, but not taking them too personally.

A sensitive area

It makes sense that there is no fuck-up night for defeat in the interpersonal area, Gina Bucher thinks. "It's very private." Failure is far from suitable for small talk. "I don't mind if you always want to look for meaning and purpose." Ultimately, it's all about improvising. How to deal with it when a mistake has happened. And about accepting your own story.
All the people portrayed by Gina Bucher have in common that they have found a way out of failure - with the help of others. “In all encounters there are hands that help you get up - if you want to get up again. The lawyer, the pastor, social worker, friends and family who comfort, victims who forgive. "


Gina Bucher will read on June 4th, 7 p.m., in the Bourbaki Lucerne.