Whether it is in business or in life, learning from our mistakes is one of the hardest things to do. Perhaps that’s because we often don’t want to admit that we even made a mistake in the first place. We’re stubborn people with egos. But ultimately, if we want to grow and become better executives, we must admit our mistakes and grow from them. Accepting and admitting that we made a mistake doesn’t make us weak, it makes us strong. Most people can’t admit that they made a mistake, let alone take the necessary steps to learn from it and do better next time. You have to be the bigger person, and learn to reject the anger you feel when your ego is hurt. People will respect you more for it, and you’ll be able to get much more done the next time around.
Accept That You Made a Mistake, and Admit Blame
When it comes to learning from your mistakes, this is the first step. You need to be able to accept that you made a mistake, and admit blame. Nobody is perfect, but far too many people will place the blame on someone else, or on external factors. For example, a team leader who fails to get a project done on time might blame a vendor, or their employees, or the weather. Deflecting blame doesn’t make you a good leader. In fact, it causes others to trust and respect you less. Others respect leaders who accept the blame when things go wrong, and spread praise when things go right. That’s because the best realize that it isn’t about them—it is about the team and making sure that the team succeeds.
Learn the Lesson
In every mistake that you ever made, there is a lesson to be learned. If you didn’t complete a project, perhaps it was because you didn’t start on time. Maybe you didn’t start on time because your schedule was too cluttered. Or maybe you weren’t focused enough because you were trying to do too many things at once. No matter what the reason, you need to narrow it down and figure out exactly what it was. Once you have the reason in hand, then you can start figuring out how you can avoid it in the future. Schedule too cluttered? Make sure to clear it up before a big project. Didn’t start on time? Remember to post reminders. Learn the lesson, and then move on to the next step…
This step sounds simple, but it is the hardest one. Move on. Once you’ve learned the lesson, there is nothing else to gain from ruminating on your mistakes. Think about them too much and you will miss future opportunities. Life is about moving forward, not backwards, and business is the same way. Moving on from your mistakes isn’t easy, but your future self will thank you for it.
Regina Fasold is a seasoned Executive Coach and Leadership Expert. Her extensive professional background and her 10+ years of experience as a Global Executive Coach have allowed her to assist over 300 senior executives in corporations throughout the United States and in over 25 countries around the world.