Mistakes I Made at Work is a great anthology of lessons from prominent women in various fields about how various failures at their jobs helped shape who they are. I read it for my job as a personnel and research director and will absolutely be using the wisdom gleaned from it in my job.

I appreciated the diversity of the fields in particular, as well as the diversity of women. Several talked about their intersectional experiences with race – how being a black woman in a board room is different than being a white one and if we don’t pay attention to that as a culture then we have failed. Several others talked about the lack of mentoring they had as a young professional and how that had a negative impact upon them.

One of the main themes was that we need to move away from the “good girl”, perfectionist culture we generally pass on to young girls and teach them that failure is inevitable and can be graceful. There is no shame in mistakes, only possible guilt and definitely the opportunity to learn. By allowing our young women to learn – and perhaps it is therefore our job to model – that failure of task is not a failure of character we can hopefully shift the culture of female leadership.

A deceptively easy read – Bacal’s prose is accessible and the book wells structured. The content is defiantly stuff to ponder, however, and reflective time required to fully absorb the wisdom offered. Enjoy this one with coffee for sure.


Further Reading:


I received a copy of this book from my employer.