Mistakes. They’re a thing. It’s in our nature to address what’s immediately wrong and once the fire is out, work to prevent said error from occurring again. But even this final step might not be enough — always use a mistake as a chance to step back and take a more general look at your behaviour, mindset and processes.
Kat Boogaard over at Inc. covers the five steps you should go through when you believe you’ve made a mistake. While nothing here is revolutionary, it’s helpful to have a list to go through, if only to keep you focused:
1. What happened?
2. How do I fix it?
3. Do I need to apologise?
4. How will I prevent this in the future?
5. What’s one key takeaway from this experience?
The first four deal with the immediate and future ramifications of the mistake. That’s all well and good, but it’s the fifth point that stands out. Mistakes and errors provide an opportunity for self-improvement and larger changes in your life. As Boogaard explains:
…you should also take some time to identify one key lesson you can extract from that humbling experience.
Maybe you’ve learned that your colleagues are far more willing to help out than you realize. Or, perhaps you now know that it’s better to ask for clarification sooner rather than later.
Figure out the core nugget that you can take away, and you’re sure to leverage that mistake — no matter how mortifying — as a valuable learning experience.
So don’t be so quick to move on from your mistakes. This approach is particularly important to recognise patterns or symptoms of something more deeply-seated.