MISTAKES AS OPPORTUNITIES
- Another definition of “err” is to wander or to stray. This can sometimes be a good thing: post-it notes, teflon, penicillin are all examples of mistakes.
- Quote from Albert Einstein: “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’
- Mistakes are proof that you’re trying. Failure is not opposite of success, it’s part of it.
What if we looked at mistakes as an opportunity?
- Mistakes can help us during the learning process and teach us to focus more closely.
- By learning from a mistake, the mistake can put you in a better situation overall and help you to make the most of bad situation.
- Dwelling on a mistake doesn’t help us move forward.
- Remember: you are not your mistake, and mistakes can be used as a stepping stone to move up to the next level.
AFTER A MISTAKE:
- Remain calm. You might want to try to fix things in a frenzy or go into fight or flight mode, but this will rarely help the situation. Ideally, you want your mind and heart in harmony, and to make decisions from a calm emotional headspace.
- Think about the advice you’ve heard about not sending that email or leaving that voicemail while angry—we want to avoid this.
- Think about it as an OLD mistake: O stands for own it.
- 1. Accountability: If you’re going to own it, you’ll need to take responsibility for it.
- Remember: with great responsibility comes great power
- 2. Accepting: Accept what has happened.
- Forgive others and yourself.
- Self-compassion research showed those who forgave themselves followed through more often and achieved greater success.
- Avoid beating yourself up and acknowledge that you’re only human.
- 3. Apologize: apologize swiftly, briefly, tell them you’re working on the situation.
- It may take courage, but let them know you’re sorry.
- It’s worse to blame others or hide your error—people will remember your integrity long after they’ve forgotten the original mistake.
- 4. Admit it: come clean.
- Admitting your mistakes is not a sign of weakness but a sign of humility.
- Trust can be rebuilt. It invites others around you to feel safe in admitting their mistakes and contributes to creating a healthy authentic environment, whether in a work or home context.
- This step makes learning possible by moving the conversations away from blame and towards understanding.
HOW TO LEARN FROM MISTAKES
- L in OLD mistake: L stands for learn—often our best teacher is our last mistake.
- Identify exactly what you did wrong: define it. Be honest and objective.
- Ask yourself clarifying questions: what was I trying to do? What went wrong? When did it go wrong? Did I say something wrong? Did I make a mistake on a project? Did I forget to follow through on a promise?
- Consider how and why you made the mistake: why did it go wrong? Did you do it on purpose and regretted it later? Were you trying to multitask? Were you exhausted? Were you not paying attention?
- If you’re not exactly sure what you did wrong, ask someone to help you figure it out. If someone is upset with you, ask them to explain.
- What can I do better next time? What can I learn from this?
- Don’t waste a good mistake, learn from it!
DON’T REPEAT IT
- D in OLD: D stands for don’t repeat it.
- Quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This isn’t insanity, but a poor memory.
- Remember the lessons you’ve learned from throughout your life or you’ll be doomed to repeat them.
- The second time you make a mistake it’s not a mistake but a choice.
Six P’s to prevent you from repeating mistakes and leveraging them to grow:
- Prepare: identify skills, knowledge, resources, tools that will prevent you from repeating the error.
- Progress: take notes, chart your progress and celebrate it.
- Patterns: remember your past mistakes and past solutions, identify similarities to your current situation, use the knowledge to help you identify larger goals and patterns you need to work out. Write down themes and common behaviors throughout your life.
- Prevention: write down what you want to achieve in the future, and strategies to avoid making the same mistake again. Analyze previous episodes and remind yourself of the circumstances that led to the mistake.
- Purpose: when you write down a list of reasons why you don’t want to engage in a behavior, you’ll be less likely to engage in the behavior again.
- Plan: find a way to keep yourself accountable that works for you. You can use an accountability partner, track progress through a journal or calendar. Have backup plans and remember: certainty is redundancy.
Remember: everyone makes mistakes. It’s not how we make mistakes but how we deal with them that defines us!