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Mistakes Happen; Learn To Capitalize On Them

George Bernard Shaw said, "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."

It doesn't take a lot of contemplation to see the wisdom in those words. Still, I suppose I'm no different from a lot of people in that it’s not always easy for me to admit my mistakes.

We all understand things won't always work out as hoped; the difficult part is how to deal with those disappointments in the proper way. Handling mistakes in the wrong manner can ruin relationships with family, friends, employees, customers, and even ruin your self-image.

I'll bet you’ve told someone it isn't the mistake that’s important but how you deal with the mistake or failure.

The first key is to admit your mistake. Of course, embracing mistakes is easier said than done. But you obviously can’t correct a mistake if you refuse to acknowledge a mistake was made.

The second key is to remember the very best people make lots of mistakes. We’ve all heard the statistic about how the average self-made millionaire has been bankrupt, or nearly so, 3.2 times. But what’s startling to me about that statistic is that successful people seem to be willing to risk failure and learn from their mistakes.

Isn't it ironic that when one looks at words like “greatness,” “learning” and “innovation,” the words “failure” and “mistakes” are usually integrally connected? Everyone makes mistakes.

Blame and shame are inappropriate responses. Ever been around someone who has to find someone to blame when something goes wrong? It isn't a lot of fun.

If the price for mistakes is made too high, you’ll decrease the number of mistakes but also stop progress in its tracks. If you blame others for mistakes, you’ll damage the inter-personal trust.

If you make a mistake, you need to say you're sorry, but feeling guilty about making a mistake is often inappropriate. My kids have taught me this lesson well; most times they weren't trying to make a mistake, it simply happened. They shouldn't feel guilty for those kinds of mistakes; they should learn from them and move on.

Look at failures and mistakes simply as part of an effective feedback mechanism. We've heard it all before – Babe Ruth had a lot of strikeouts, Thomas Edison had a lot of failed experiments, Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team. Mistakes are something to be avoided but you better be creating quite a few if your goal is to achieve something remarkable.

After you embrace your mistake, analyze it. Determine what went wrong and how to correct it. Discuss it, involve others, and avoid the blame and shame game. Focus on the positive, learn from your mistakes and act proactively on what you learned.

Don't dwell on the mistake; instead focus on the desired result and what you learned from the mistake. Making mistakes will never be enjoyable, nor easy to admit. Keep in mind, we all are better and wiser people than we were yesterday. That’s especially true if we have made and learned from some mistake.