3 Things Successful People Do When They Make Mistakes

Any great or prominent person has a history checkered with mistakes.  These mistakes, in one form or another shape and shift how that person is able to go on to find success and achievement.  Often times, as much is learned (if not more), from our mistakes than our successes.  There is something about a misstep that sends you back to the drawing board to rethink a strategy, product, plan, or decision.  The thought process of analyzing what could or should have been differently usually leads to a break-through.


Too often, we get beat down by others, or swallowed in self-defeat over our mistakes.  Examples could range from studying the wrong field in school, leaving a job you should have stuck with, staying in a job you should have left, or simply the common potential mistakes of our day-to-day work.  Getting hung up on these mistakes is going to cost you.  It’s always best to move on.  There is a certain tact or strategy that those successful individuals are able to leverage when they make mistakes.


Assess the damage & own it

Mistakes happen, regularly.  Things don’t always go as planned, and issues arise.  Sometimes, mistakes aren’t very costly, and other times, damage ensues.  The worst thing to do is ignore this or pretend a problem doesn’t exist.  A successful individual acknowledges the blowback, or at minimum the fact that the outcome could have been improved.  They take responsibility of their ownership in the situation and make proper recourse to move forward.  The adverse of that, of course, assumes no responsibility, deflects to others, pretends no consequences occurred, and looks to move on without rectifying the situation.  One of these responses will earn you credit and respect, while the other will earn you labels that are hard to shake.


Learn the lesson 

Possibly the most important, but often overlooked piece of the mistake-making process is the takeaway.  What did we learn from the mistake.  It is a huge, massive, epic fail if no lesson is learned.  A successful person learns this constantly.  Apple as a company, and Steve Jobs himself is a flawless example of tweaking, learning, expanding, absorbing, and bettering himself, the product, and the company, by way of making mistakes.  But, it’s easy for many of us to rush to move on from any mistake or failure so fast, in effort to put it behind us and rush ahead, that we miss so much of the “meat on the bone”.  If your pitch to your client failed – why did it fail?  Product sales tanked after launch – what did your customers want, that you didn’t deliver?  Your first job out of school isn’t your thing – why not, and what IS your “thing”?  Ask never-ending questions on the quest to find answers.  This ensures those mistakes aren’t for nothing.


Move on

Last, but not least, is put the past behind you.  I’m not the biggest fan of that phrase, but after you’ve squeezed all the juice from the orange (a.k.a. your mistake), move the heck on.  Again, a successful person does this always.  An unsuccessful person does not.  Do NOT sit and wallow in your failure to get promoted.  Do NOT repeatedly re-read the email that “we are pursuing other candidates at this time”.  Do NOT look at your college debt and recall how you should have picked a different major.  DO remind yourself that you’re given another chance.  That your next venture will be the one that succeeds.  That a job offer will come.  That your college degree doesn’t have to dictate your future.  Move on.  Mistakes happen, and they always will.