Steps to Management Success – Step 13: Turn Your Mistakes into Tools

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010


Turn Your Mistakes into Tools

Because nobody is perfect, everybody makes mistakes. The best thing to do when this happens to you is to admit it, not attempt to justify it, and to learn from it. That’s right—every mistake you (or even someone else) make is a learning opportunity in disguise.

WHAT IT MEANS: Naturally, you want to be perceived as a competent, can-do professional, but everybody screws up once in a while. If you don’t, it probably means that your job is not challenging enough.

So when you do, try to have a mature perspective. It’s not the end of the world. You will learn, grow, and move on. Don’t compound your mistake by trying to paper it over or explaining it away—or looking for a scapegoat. Most of those oft-tried remedies simply won’t work—and may even leave you looking worse.

ACTION PLAN: Cool off, calm down, and think it over. What exactly was your mistake? What, in hindsight, could you have done to prevent it (sometimes the answer will be “nothing”), or to minimize the consequent damage? What actions could you take to avoid such a mistake from recurring? That’s your takeaway lesson—now, let it go!

EVEN BETTER: Invite manager and/or coworker feedback. Make it clear that you welcome such constructive criticism. By owning up to your mistakes and learning from them, you will not only free yourself from the impossible burden of always having to be perfect, you (and others) can grow from the experience, and you may well prevent future mistakes by nipping them in the bud.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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