Overcoming Mistakes at Work

I think we can all agree, everyone makes mistakes.  But how we deal with mistakes can greatly influence our success at work and in life.  As Mark Twain once said, “Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.”  So, how then are we to handle our mistakes in a way that nurtures self-growth, rather than self-doubt?

Here are three steps toward moving past mistakes in the workplace:

  • Be honest with yourself and your supervisor.  Admit your mistake and take responsibility.  Although we all hate to admit we were wrong, making excuses or blaming others impedes our ability to learn from the mistake.
  • Make amends.  Do your best to help fix the problem; taking the initiative of responsibility will help to show your willingness to completing a successful project.
  • Move on.  Dwelling on past mistakes will lead to a fear to act on new opportunities.

Though it may be a rough season to walk through, learning from mistakes can lead to growth and better decision making in the future.  I once worked with a senior engineer who had missed checking some roof trusses for uplift, and only realized their mistake as the building was being constructed.  Rather than cover their tracks, the engineer graciously shared their misdeed with the younger engineers so that we might learn from their mistake, and avoid one of our own.  Honesty and humility can go a long way toward repairing any mistake you might have committed, and may gain you some respect from your colleagues.


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