Learn from your mistakes

By JOHNNY CARCIOPPOLO / Community Columnist

In both your personal and professional life, there are seven things you can do to deal with almost any mistake you make.

  1. Approach the mistake with a positive, constructive frame of mind.
  2. Define the mistake clearly. Write down exactly what happened. Think on paper. The more clearly you can write about it, the more clearly you will understand the mistake and its possible corrections.
  3. Examine all the known causes of the mistake. How did it happen? Why did it happen? What were the critical variables that triggered the mistake? Any attempt to pass over a mistake without identifying how it occurred in the first place will leave the roots of that mistake in the ground, to grow up again in the future.
  4. Identify all the possible ways of mitigating the mistake. What are all the different things that you could do to minimize the cost of the mistake, or to solve the problem that has arisen? The more ideas you have, the more likely it is that you will come up with the approach that will prove most effective.
  5. Make a clear, unequivocal decision about how to handle the mistake. Decisiveness is a characteristic of high performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all. Even the most effective leaders make mistakes, but then they quickly make decisions to offset those.
  6. Assign specific responsibility for taking the steps necessary to mitigate the mistake within a certain time frame. Who exactly is going to do what, and when, and how, and to whom will they report? The failure to assign or accept responsibility to achieve results before a specific deadline will leave the situation open-ended, and it will often get worse as a result.
  7. Take action! Swift and decisive action is a characteristic of the top 2 percent of the population.

The only guarantee in life is that most of the decisions you make and conclusions you come to will eventually prove wrong. How you deal with these situations is the chief determinant of your success or failure.

Mistakes and problems are good. Without them there would be no opportunities for greatness. When you take every challenge that life throws at you, accepting it as an inevitable part of the growing experience, you can turn it to your advantage in every way possible. Almost every mistake you make contains a hidden treasure that you can apply to your life to forge a future that is extraordinary and worthwhile.