Benefitting From Your Biggest Blunders

Oscar Wilde at Oxford

Oscar Wilde at Oxford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writer and poet Oscar Wilde has a quote that I love:  “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Similar to a child who touches something hot for the first time, we never forget some of our biggest errors. In fact, we almost always learn from them. Just as with personal mistakes, business mistakes can often seem detrimental right after they occur. Instead of thinking of the positive aspects, such as the valuable lesson we will have learned from the mistake, we often immediately resort to punishing ourselves and filling our minds with negative thoughts.

Here are some tips on how to positively recover after making a mistake:

• Researchers have found that trying self-compassion is key to recovering from a blunder. Take time to think about your past successes and view the mistake as a positive learning experience. By doing this instead of beating yourself up, you’re more likely to see the possibilities for change and take the appropriate steps toward making those changes.
• Remember that the more you think about yourself and your business negatively after a mistake, the less you are focusing on how to take positive steps toward not making that mistake again in the future.
• Always fess up to your mistakes – be completely honest and own up to your error, even if the mistake involved more than one person. After fully explaining the mistake to those it may affect, make sure to mention which actions you plan to take to ensure that it does not happen again.
• Never blame others or become defensive – after all, you wouldn’t want others blaming a mistake on you if the tables were turned! Acknowledge which parts of the mistake were in your control and which were out of your control instead.
• Discuss your mistake with a colleague or even someone outside of your job and ask for their input and advice on how to best recover.
• Most important of all: Don’t let your mistakes stop you from taking risks and experimenting in the future! Coming out ahead of mistakes is often the way that we learn to do things differently and can be a blessing in disguise. As long as you stay resilient and put your best foot forward in the future, you can rebuild trust with your colleagues and clients.

So, the next time you find yourself making a terrible faux pas, remember to treat yourself kindly – we all make mistakes. In the end, the biggest mistake you can make is not learning anything from it.


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