Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities

When I was much younger, I took a position at a company working for someone who had far more faith in my abilities then I had. He would often bring me a job to do, and leave me with a “Your in Charge”. I would then plan out the steps needed to complete the job, and bring it back to him for approval before committing physical assets to the project. In my mind, I was both giving him the opportunity to show me any flaws in my plan, and covering my but. In his mind, I was wasting his time.

Eventually, He sat me down and told me some of the best advice I have ever gotten. He said: “Every day of your life, you make thousands of decisions. What to eat for breakfast, what to wear to work, what route to ta take to work, etc, etc. Most of these choices are not going to be the best choice you could have made. You just have to deal with it.”

The Mistake with Mistakes

In todays age of “participation trophies” and “Everyone is a winner”, these words may seem a little harsh. However, they teach a lesson that I believe is essential to success. Things do not always go perfectly, and you will make mistakes. But you can not let your mistakes define you. Instead, you must make how you handle those mistakes define you. You should always be ready to change your plan as the circumstance require, and always be ready to say “Well that didn’t work, so let’s try this”.

I once heard a saying that went something like this: “I didn’t fail, I just figured out what didn’t work”. Dwelling on a failure doesn’t do any good. It is almost as bad as not recognizing the failure. A failure brings you closer to success when you know not to make that same mistake again. When a mistake happens, your first though should be “what can I do to fix this”.

May the odds be ever in your favor

If there are 5 ways to do something, you choose one way, and it is wrong, then you only have 4 choices left. The odds that you will get it right next time just got better. But you have to try the next thing. The chances that a mistake will fix itself while you sit around and complain about it are zero. Yet so many people do just that. If something goes wrong, they want to find someone to blame, they want to yell or complain, but they don’t seem to want to try to fix the problem and move on. The reality of the situation is that any mistake is an opportunity to see what doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work. This knowledge will help you make a better choice when you try to fix the mistake.

So remember, mistakes will always happen. Getting mad about a mistake doesn’t fix the problem. Complaining about a mistake doesn’t fix the problem. Looking for someone to blame for the mistake doesn’t fix the problem. Learning from the mistake, and continuing on with a different plan is the only thing that will fix the problem.

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