Recovering from Mistakes

Posted by Trevor on 10 September 2012 | 3 Comments

As human beings, we are bound to make mistakes. They are embarrassing, to say the least, and your first instinct, especially within leader positions, might be to cover your tracks. One of the clear signs of emotional maturity however is the ability to admit to a mistake and take responsibility. I have a lot of respect for people who admit their errors, apologize, and move on. Such a level of maturity is far beyond those who blame everybody but themselves.

Everyone makes mistakes. Beating yourself up over something that didn’t turn out well is not going to solve anything. Take the approach rather that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. With this line of thinking, you can focus on your next steps rather than waste time in regretting the previous ones. The right answer for a situation is often obvious when looking back – but that certainty only comes with the knowledge that is available after the fact.

Although I recognize my mistakes, I don’t dwell on them. Mistakes are a sign that you are progressing. If you aren’t making mistakes, then you are probably not moving forward. The key is to never repeat the same mistake. You have to recognize your error, make a mental note, and change the system to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The ability to adapt, particularly within a small business, is crucial to success. Every day things are constantly changing. You can’t possibly predict what will happen from one day to the next – but regardless, when you’re building a business you have to be constantly moving forward. There is simply no time to ponder how a different decision would have played out. Good or bad, a choice was made and there is nothing you can do after the fact but move forward – hopefully with more open eyes.

The difference between a good company and a mediocre company is that a good one recognizes mistakes and makes a genuine effort to fix them. A good company ensures that there are systems and people in place to prevent any repetition of error. You’re not helping yourself by hiding the mistakes you make, because they are great opportunities to learn and improve. Taking responsibility for them not only earns you a level of respect, but it ultimately strengthens your business.

It’s not about the mistake you made. It’s how you recover from it.

 

3 Comments

  1. Dear Trevor – Thank you for your post – It’s encouraging to read about accountability and emotional maturity, especially from someone living the principles. Thank you also for your book — I’m so excited to have discovered Three Simple Steps.

    I came across your work three days ago while on the floor of Barnes and Nobles surrounded by stacks of business books with my sons, 5&7, reading more entertaining books beside me. I co-own a business here in NYC and am researching ways to expand, increase referrals, build our brand, etc…. and as part of that my partner and I are also trying to write our first book, which is to say we have a lot we want to accomplish…

    It wasn’t until I was leaving the store when Three Simple Steps, which was facing forward from the stacks in the business section, caught my eye. The simplicity of the cover’s graphics and words were a welcomed sight after skimming so much information that just wasn’t sticking. I wondered why I hadn’t noticed it before. (I guess I hadn’t been expecting any answers in three simple steps!)

    I was immediately engaged by your comparison to thrashing around in quicksand and the fact that you had written from personal experience. I brought your book home and, at the risk of sounding over zealous, felt excited just holding it – as if I could feel the energy, possibilities and hope in my hands! The first section on Step One did not disappoint. I’m letting the information sink in, observing my own thoughts and reactions, before moving onto Step Two.

    The comment, “You are the only thing standing in your way,” has always filled my heart with despair. About a year ago I came across a quote “The man who is not in control of his thoughts is in trouble forever.” I knew the two were somehow connected and decided then that I wanted to find a better way of seeing and reacting to the world around me. Your book feels like a gift. It has given me awareness and some wonderful new tools to step almost effortlessly around myself as if I have known how to do it my whole life.

    With much gratitude and thanks,

    Rebecca

    • Trevor says:

      Dear Rebecca

      Thank you so much for taking the time to send feedback on the blog and Three Simple Steps. I have taught the principles of these three steps mostly informally for many years and watching people’s lives transform from them has been a blast. You are in for one heck of an adventure. Since the book launched a few weeks ago, I have received excited anecdotes from all over the world, and I think the authenticity is resonating with people who simply want a map to the life they know they deserved. The first step is certainly the path to finding yourself again, letting the real you come to the front once more. Your description of “step almost effortlessly around myself” is perfect. I believe that positive thinking is something of an illusion because our thoughts are instantaneous. When we hear or see something we don’t like our thoughts are hardwired and immediately negative. That is ok because that is how the brain works. We don’t have time to intercept them. As you note, what is critical is how we then react to those thoughts. That is where the control comes in and makes all the difference between a life struggling in quicksand and one full of adventure and experience.

      Cheers,
      Trev

  2. Thanks so much for your reply Trevor — much appreciated!

    All the best,

    Rebecca

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