What Do You Do With Mistakes?

Anyone attempting great things will encounter struggles, failure, mistakes. It is how we react and use those mistakes that can separate us and allow us to find success as a leader, entrepreneur, communicator, business person.

On Friday, I was heading out of town with my wife to go to a wedding in Florida with her family. In order to do this, I scheduled everything that I needed to happen so that it would happen automatically on Friday morning. My email went out to my subscribers, I had a couple tweets that went out, and a few other little to-do’s that I was able to make happen automatically.

It all went off without a hitch. Well, except for one minor detail… my article didn’t publish.

So I sent out an email and tweets and all these things linking to a sexy 404 page and no article. I finally caught it Saturday night, and quickly posted the article. (By the way, I was bummed because I think it’s an article worth reading. Pretty solid and immediately applicable stuff.)

To be honest, I was embarrassed as soon as I discovered the blunder.

So now, I can decide what to do with this mistake. I’ve come up with four healthy steps to handling a mistake.

1. Embrace it.

Allow me to catch you up to speed real quick: it happened. I made a mistake. You probably made a mistake as well, at some point. If it wasn’t today, it was yesterday or the day before. It’s a symptom of being a human being. Don’t fight it, don’t beat yourself up. Embrace it. I wouldn’t have made this mistake if I weren’t trying to do something worth doing.

And when I say embrace it, I encourage you to do it openly. It humanizes you. My guess is that anyone who reads this has made a mistake too, and can sympathize with me. They’ll connect more with an imperfect and honest version of me, than some contrived, falsely-perfect version of me that I try to present.

2. Laugh about it.

You can either cower in embarrassment and reveal your own lack of fortitude, or you can lighten up a bit and laugh at yourself. I looked a little dumb on Friday, shooting off my slick email and working to get people to click over to my brilliant, shiny new post which I didn’t even actually publish! I’m gonna laugh about it. Why? Because it’s a little ridiculous!

Akin to the first step, laugh about it openly. Laugh with people. Be secure enough to know that your value as a person is not tied to your ability to live a perfect, mistake-free life. (See the “I/R Theory” in this awesome book!)

Either laugh with others, or be laughed at (or worse, mistrusted).

3. Learn from it.

I watched a great youtube video where a real estate investor lost a large chunk of change when a water main was left flowing freely over a weekend on a house he was trying to renovate. It was a LOT of water and caused a lot of damage, and cost him a lot of money. He decided that, rather than throwing a tantrum at whoever was partially to blame, he would respond by figuring out just how the mistake was made, and how he could improve his systems to avoid it in the future.

We should do the same thing. Any mistake is an opportunity to identify a potential weakness or lack of understanding, and to improve who we are and what we’re doing.

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4. Forget about it.

As soon as you’ve identified the knowledge you can take away from it, and have taken measures to grow, you’re done. It’s over. I can fret and worry about how silly I looked asking people to read my non-existent article, or I can simply tighten up my system, make sure it doesn’t happen again, and move on with doing something that I believe I must do.

So that’s what I’ll do. Sorry for the dead links on Friday. Obviously, despite my super-human taste in neck ties, I am merely a human being.

But I’m going go keep busting my ass to push toward something I believe in strongly!

I’m glad I blew it on Friday. It gives me the chance to lead by example and keep on keeping on. The goal of this site and this blog is to encourage people bound by human limitations—mistake-prone insecure, fearful, flawed human beings—to reject the notion that these limitations mean that they can’t do great things, and to take action regardless.

Go do something worth doing! Go risk making a mistake!




Go-To Resource: My entire team and I are currently reading this VERY stellar book about sales. Just like my e-book on communication talks about, the principles herein are not exclusive to sales at all, but relate to human relationships across the board. I found the portion about the I/R Theory to be particularly relevant. Click here to check it out for yourself!





Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. To be clear, I only recommend products or services I have used or experienced personally, and believe in their value. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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