6 Actionable Steps to Turn A Mistake Into a Learning Experience

by Carly Ries Carly Ries | Jun 1, 2021 8:00:00 AM

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."

- Henry Ford

Saying Henry Ford achieved a thing or two in his life would be a vast understatement, but as successful as he was in the end, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, he encountered many failures along the way to achieving greatness. But instead of letting those failures get him down or discourage him, he simply learned from them until he got it right. We could all take a page out of Ford’s book.

We all make mistakes. Sure, some are larger than others, but the one thing all mistakes have in common is that we can take something away from them, and use that knowledge to better ourselves moving forward.

Depending on the severity of the mistake, this may be easier said than done. The steps below will help to point you in the right direction.

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Actionable Steps

Own It

No excuses. You made the mistake, so take responsibility for it. This will not only reflect well on your character (nobody likes the “point fingers at others” guy), it will also allow you to properly accept it and move on.

Analyze Your Mistake

Be honest with yourself and ask the hard questions. What went wrong and when? In hindsight, what would you have done differently? Would you have actually changed anything? Break the process down that led you to the mistake and identify the answers to these questions. It will help you grow and improve moving forward.

Be At Peace With Them

Once you analyze your mistake and have the answers you need, be at peace with them. Leave the past in the past and take the most valuable lessons and run with them. Reframing the way you view your mistakes can do wonders for your productivity and future outcomes. Instead of allowing the mistake to hold you back, it can actually be a huge motivator.

Take Feedback to Heart

Often you’re not the only one who was witness to the mistake. Ask others how they perceived it and what they understood. Seeing what happened through a different lens can help you course-correct in the future. Getting feedback from others can give you insight about yourself you weren’t previously aware of, and can help you grow as a person, not just in regards to the mistake at hand. Take the feedback graciously and don’t get defensive if somebody says something you disagree with. People are just trying to help, so try to leave your ego out of it as best as you can.

Apply Key Learnings

Whether it’s taking another stab at the endeavor you attempted that led to the mistake, or a completely new pursuit, take the key learnings you’ve uncovered and apply them to future opportunities that come your way in order to properly avoid them. The nice thing about making mistakes is that you’ll often do whatever it takes to avoid that same mistake in the future, which will get you one step closer to the success you seek.

Pay It Forward

Teach the lessons you learned to others facing the same challenges. It’ll be therapeutic for you to accept and get over the failures, but it will also help others avoid the same scenarios, creating a greater good for all.

Food for Thought: Are there any mistakes from your past that you’re having a hard time overcoming? Analyze that mistake now and see what positive takeaways you can pull from it to improve yourself and others in the future.

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