How to Profit From Your Mistakes

We all mistakes. We have to or we’d never learn anything at all! My Father’s best bit of advice to me (as I crawled home from a disastrous love affair and having dropped out from my first stab at University) was:

“Well, you’ve made a mistake, everyone has to make their own mistakes. The trick is not to make the same one twice”

It’s good advice and I’ve quoted him often when coaching. Mistakes in life are inevitable but it’s what we do with the knowledge gained from making those mistakes that’s important.

So here’s a few tips to help make your mistakes profitable experiences for you:

1) Don’t give yourself too hard a time. Identify what it is you actually did wrong, and don’t rubbish everything about yourself. For example, don’t tell yourself how stupid you are, but that the thing you did wrong was stupid. It’s quite a subtle, but powerful, distinction and will help you distance yourself enough to really look at how you behaved in a way that’s helpful to you.

2) Try to put the mistake into perspective. You could use phrases to yourself like “Well, at least I didn’t blow up the house, I only left the iron on”. Or, “Will this be important in five years time?” Reframe the situation.

3) Be honest and admit the mistake, first to yourself and then with others. Once you admit something is wrong you can set about putting it right and also begin to learn from it. If you stay in denial there’s a strong likelihood you’ll keep repeating the same mistake, and that profits no one!

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?


Posted on January 22nd, 2010 by

2 Responses to “How to Profit From Your Mistakes”

  1. Sue Atkins says:

    I’ve just discovered your great writing from Twitter and this is just brilliant advice. I have found what you said about making the distinction between “don’t tell yourself how stupid you are, but that the thing you did wrong was stupid” a really powerful – thank you. It’s made me feel better already and I’ll pass it forward to my clients next !

    • Jane says:

      Thank you Sue, for taking the time to comment and I’m so glad you like the site. I learned that particular piece of wisdom from my days as a child care social worker, and when working in a children’s home. Never tell a child he/she is naughty but describe what they are doing as wrong. It s much easier to stop scribbling on walls when you know it’s wrong rather than lose the tag ‘naughty’ (unloveable) child! But then I’m sure you know that. Good luck with your business – looks good!

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