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Learn From Your Mistakes

When you were learning to walk, “mistake” wasn’t part of your vocabulary. You fell, picked yourself up, and tried again. You were free to make mistakes, so you were free to learn.

An executive in a large company works on a major deal that goes sour. The company loses $3 million. The executive goes to the CEO of the company to submit a letter of resignation. The CEO says, “Hey, you can’t quit now! I just spent $3 million to train you!”

Learn from your mistakes 

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been trusted to take the game-winning shot... and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s precisely why I succeed.

  • Identify the mistake. Be specific. “I missed the deadline because I didn’t double-check the date.”
  • Review the steps that led to the mistake: what you did, what others did, or any other relevant circumstances.
  • Ask yourself what you could have done differently to prevent the mistake.
  • Identify what you’ve learned. “I need to check details for myself.”
  • Explain to those affected—supervisors, teachers, customers, parents, friends— what you’ve learned.

It’s counter-productive to put yourself down for a mistake. Try to:

  • Forgive yourself.
  • Do some positive self-talk: “I’m always learning, even when I mess up or things don’t work out. I can learn from mistakes.”

Evidence suggests people who actively learn from their mistakes are healthier and live longer. For more on this topic, google “Martin Seligman” and “optimism.”

When you take risks, you grow. When you take risks, you make mistakes. Calculate the risk and prepare.

 

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