We all make mistakes. I make lots of them. Just yesterday, there was a situation at work where I overreacted and should have handled things differently. I have insulted clients, I have introduced huge bugs, I have suggested really bad directions, I have accidentally emailed thousands of users, the list goes on and on. The good part is that every mistake is an opportunity to grow. There are a couple of things we can do to get the most out of the things that didn’t go as planned.

  • Admit that you were wrong. The very first step is to acknowledge that something didn’t go as planned and that you need to change something.
  • Write down what went wrong. By writing down your failures, you create a log. This simple act will cause you to reflect on the situation.
  • Don’t blame others. There is rarely a case where a mistake cannot be partly attributed to someone else. However, skip blaming to focus on what you could have done different to get the most out of the situation.
  • Make changes. Just saying: “we’ll do better next time” probably won’t cut it. Commit to introduce a (small) change in the way you work any time something goes wrong. This can vary between creating a checklist to asking a friend to check in with you on something.
  • Move on. After you reflected and came up with a change, there is no need to keep feeling bad. Nothing good will come from you feeling sad and defeated all day.

By far the most difficult part is to admit your mistakes. Agreeing you need to make changes in your behavior could make you feel that something is wrong with you and that you need to keep your perfect image up. We all know both things aren't true, so the sooner you accept that, the quicker you’ll learn.