Mistakes: Be Better, Not Bitter

Published Monday, November 12, 2012 9:24 PM

Mistakes are an unavoidable part of work and life. How you handle those mistakes however is entirely within your control. When you view life's inevitable missteps as an opportunity to be better, not bitter, you create the possibility of a better future outcome.

In contrast, when we try to avoid errors at all costs, we hamstring creativity and run the risk of inertia. It's been said that the greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one. So go on, try hard, fail often, and succeed sooner.

Moving On

Moving on from mistakes requires perspective. Everyone makes them, time and again. Even if your misstep is a doozy, you can still recover and regroup. Former President Bill Clinton and Martha Stewart are two very public examples of individuals who erred in the white hot spotlight and yet managed to rehabilitate their images. So relax, if they can do it, you can do it.

When a misstep occurs (and they will inevitably occur!) don't panic. Instead collect yourself, take a deep breath and get ready for damage control.
If apologies are in order, make them. If a wrong can be righted, do so. If you've somehow erred, make amends. Actions always speak louder than words so put in some solid work before you expect absolution for your error.
You may discover that the process of setting a wrong to right actually forges deeper connections. Your impeccable conduct in owning up to and fixing a mistake can help erase any negative perceptions caused by the error in the first place.

Forgive & Remember
Assess and forgive yourself. Successfully fixing, or moving on from a mistake, requires a little self-care. If you're so busy beating yourself up, odds are you are not going to have the energy to actually fix the problem. Recognize that you made a mistake, as everyone does from time to time, forgive yourself, and get on with the hard work of fixing your mistake. A mistake can be a tremendous teacher; take time to identify what went wrong and determine how best to avoid a similar problem in the future.
Assess and forgive others. Sometimes we are ensnared in a mistake at another's hands. When we ally ourselves with those that fail us, we have the chance to experience a teachable moment. However, if we're so busy stewing in our anger, or nursing regret, we can miss this opportunity for growth. Let go of your anger, calmly address the dilemma with all parties involved, and again, strategize about how to avoid similar issues down the road.
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take."  Go ahead, take a shot and if at first you don't succeed...well, you know the rest!


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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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