Mistakes Happen ~ Learn and Grow

Posted by Lou Imbriano

May 10, 2011 –

Mistakes are a funny thing. When you make them, your first reaction is to run and hide from them, because you do not want to be known for the mistake, no matter how large or small. But that is absolutely a bigger mistake than the first one. There are multiple reasons why you should do the exact opposite and look the mistake right in the eye and learn from it.  In building great business relationships, to ensure the relationship continues, you have to be able to manage the mistakes that you make.

When you hide from your mistake, it becomes a burden on you. You try to bury it deeper and deeper, but it always pops back up and rears its ugly head. So don’t hide from the mistake you made; to prevent that mistake from happening again, think through the steps you took that led you astray, and think about the different routes that you could have taken. But, once you understand the error of your ways, you can’t stop there. No, you then have to take action.

It’s time to make amends. If you make a blunder and it affected others, you have to address it and make things right. If you do not, it will be the 800-pound gorilla in the room every time your paths cross, and that’s only part of the problem; it’s going to continue to linger in your mind even when they are not present. That notion will pick away at you like a buzzard on a carcass, and the gnawing will erode your confidence and happiness. So, man up, take your lumps, and try to make things right. People will appreciate it when you take responsibility and work at fixing what you did wrong. Quite often, that ownership will strengthen a relationship. There will be times when the mistake is too catastrophic to salvage the relationship; however, you still need to address it, even if the relationship is destroyed. You need to do this in order to be able to fully move on.

That’s truly what has to come next. You have made the mistake, learned from it, and addressed it; now it’s time to move on. Do not dwell on it and get caught up in a vortex of doubt. The rehashing over and over again is only going to cause agony and derailment, and won’t help you grow in any way. Which, by the way, should be the key results of a mistake: to learn and grow. Don’t get bogged down by that mistake, because there will be others, and you can’t be toting around all your mistakes wherever you go. That would be an extreme burden that would slow you down and prevent you from achieving your goals.

How do I know this? You’re reading a guy who has made plenty of mistakes along the way, and guess what? Still do. I used to belabor every mistake I made and would run it over and over in my head. I also have hidden from mistakes, and at times, haven’t addressed them – all mistakes on my part; all were wrong and have been the cause of some regrets. But now, with almost a 25-year career in business under my belt, and 45 years of making blunders, I know that even though I will continue to make them, I realize that what defines you is not the mistakes you’ve made, but how you address them and grow forward. I’m not saying this gives you carte blanche to go out and be a mistake-making machine. No, you still have to work hard and pay attention in that area, but remember, it doesn’t matter how bright you are, how disciplined you are, or how seasoned you are, you will make mistakes. The key is how you handle them, which will determine how you will be viewed by yourself and others.