The Great Thing about Making Mistakes...

Your best teacher is your last mistake.We all make mistakes … face it! Not one of us is perfect! We are human, and we mess up more often that we would care to admit. Some of these mistakes are embarrassing, some are painful, and some are costly. So what is so great about mistakes, you might ask … probably in a sarcastic tone? I believe that our mistakes are our greatest learning tool.

I have come to the conclusion that there are four steps to learning from our mistakes:

1. Admitting that we made a mistake.   This is often hard to do.  It injures the ego.  It makes us feel uncomfortable and often vulnerable.

2. Acknowledging mistake for what it is.   What was the rationale behind the mistake?  Was it a deliberate attempt to mess things up or to hurt someone? Conversely, was it a bad judgment call?  We need to recognize the distinction.  

I vividly remember an incident where Janice, friend of mine, was comforting another friend, whose daughter had gotten into a car with a person who had been drinking. There had been an accident.

The daughter had not been hurt in the incident. The mother was distraught.  Janice asked about the daughter’s reaction to the incident.  The mother explained that she was extremely upset, couldn’t eat or sleep, and was remorseful.

Wisely, Janice pointed out that it was her reaction that was critical. She recognized that she made a poor choice, she learned from her mistake, and she was not going to make the same mistake again.

3. Recognizing the factors that were in place when the mistake was made.  Why did we make the choices that we did?

4. Determining that we will do what we can NOT to repeat the mistake again.  This, to me, is where the real learning takes place.  There is wisdom to be gain in figuring out what went wrong, what part we played, how it affected us and those around us, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.

I feel that it is important to learn from our mistakes, both in business and in life.  We must recognize our mistakes for what they are.  We are human.  We must be gentle with ourselves, let go, learn and move on.  If we endeavor not to make the same mistake again, then we have gained from the experience and have grown as a person and as a business owner.

Mistakes in business can be quite costly, especially in the legal and financial realms. Ask any business person!  The mistakes that I have made almost wiped out my business.  When I speak to a new entrepreneur, I caution them to seek out the best legal and financial advice that they can find.  This might mean finding trusted individuals, organizations or government agencies who can recommend sources of sound counsel.  

I owe a debt of gratitude (no pun intended) to NLOWE, not only for the advice and guidance that I have received from the staff members, but also from the individuals that have been recommended for further assistance.  

Take chances.  Be willing to make mistakes.  Don’t beat yourself up about them.  Accept them.  Acknowledge them for what they are.  Use them for stepping stones to grow, move on, and mature.  Accept the wisdom and counsel of those you trust.  Listen to others who have gone before you.

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