As careful as you may be, you will make mistakes. Although it’s not possible to live mistake free, there are effective strategies you can use to recover from your mistakes.
Let’s start by considering basic causes of mistakes. You are impatient and act too quickly. You lack knowledge or expertise. You don’t have enough information to make a sound decision. You make a decision based on wrong information. Regardless of the cause, you need to recover from your mistakes. Once you have recovered, you can identify and address the cause.
The difference between making a mistake and failing is your response. Successful people use mistakes as a stepping stone to future achievements. Those who give up transform a mistake into a guaranteed failure.
Mistakes are fixed through corrective action. Doing nothing exacerbates the mistake, making it harder to repair. But before a mistake can be fixed it must be recognized. Denying that a mistake has been made prevents you from repairing it. Taking responsibility for your mistakes is the first step to moving forward to success.
When a mistake has been made, you have to find answers to four important questions. What happened? Why did it happen? What did you learn? What can you do to prevent it from happening again? Accurate and honest answers to these questions are invaluable.
When a mistake happens, stay composed. You need a calm mind in order to accurately assess your options and decide what step to take next. Stress inhibits your ability for sound reasoning. Don’t get stuck lamenting your mistake. You won’t feel good about what happened but you can’t change the past. Pick yourself up and start moving forward.
After a mistake has been made, the first priority is dealing with the immediate consequences and limiting damage. For example, when a sailor’s boat is damaged in a storm, leaks must be plugged immediately before any other repairs are made.
Recovering from mistakes requires an open mind and flexibility. You have to take a step back so that you can keep things in perspective while looking at the big picture. Make a list of all possible strategies. Then go through your list and prioritize. Be willing to change direction if needed.
If you don’t know what you should do next, seek out those who have successfully recovered from similar mistakes. People who have not had this experience may provide you with faulty advice.
Keep a positive, can do attitude. If you tell you mind there’s no hope, there is virtually no chance for you to recover from your mistake. The right mindset is essential for you to move forward successfully.
Once you have determined the appropriate course of action, take action. Nothing happens until you do something. Wishing and hoping alone are ineffective. Your first priority is to limit further damages or negative consequences. Your second priority is to repair any damage that has already occurred.
Once things are under control you’ll have time to determine what went wrong and why. You certainly don’t want to repeat the same mistake. The only way to avoid this is through a thorough understanding of the root cause along with a determination to make any necessary changes.
Don’t get disheartened by your mistakes. They are an excellent learning opportunity. The sting of even your worst mistakes fades with time. Study other successful people and analyze what they do to recover from their mistakes.
Here’s how you recover from mistakes in a nutshell. Recognize when you make a mistake. Take responsibility for the mistake. Immediately take action to limit additional damage. Repair any damage that has occurred. Make changes to prevent the same mistake from recurring. Mistakes are part of life but you can recover from them.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden