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How to embrace growth through our own mistakes

Nobody likes making mistakes. They make us feel bad about ourselves and can lead to low self-confidence and self-efficacy. Making mistakes is about getting something wrong perhaps via a deliberate decision or through error of judgement. Sometimes we know immediately something is wrong but on other occasions, we only realise we have made a mistake when we look back over time. Either way, mistakes are part of the human experience, and no matter how experienced, skilled, or practiced we aim to be, mistakes will occasionally happen.

Embrace mistakes

But rather than feeling bad about making mistakes, we can use them to our advantage. Recognising and owning mistakes can be a very powerful way to grow and learn about ourselves, as well as to build knowledge and skills.

Avoid blame culture

There is often a tendency when things go wrong in the workplace to look for reasons and find someone to blame, or what is often called, the ‘blame game’ begins. Rather than finding culprits to blame for errors or mistakes, a healthier attitude is to deconstruct what happened and everyone strives to understand and benefit from reflecting on the situation. This approach views the situation as a learning exercise for all those involved and as something everyone can benefit from.

Encourage new behaviours

Such an approach to mistakes can prevent recurring patterns of behaviour. The value of self-reflection is that we become more self-aware and can recognise how we typically respond in particular situations which in itself may be triggering recurring mistakes. Recognising and addressing our behaviour via self-reflection is an important aspect of growth and development in the workplace.

Adopt self-reflection and foster self-awareness

How do we apply reflection and self-awareness? First, think through the reasons for the mistake by reflecting on the circumstances and what was happening at the time but importantly from the perspective of your own role, responsibility or intentions.

Reflect on your own mindset or attitude towards the situation and any impacts this may have had. As you work through this process consider talking with others also involved to gain constructive input on what happened. It may be that part of the process of learning from our mistakes is to speak with those who were affected by the mistake. Understanding the impact on others and, if necessary, apologising can help to rebuild our reputation and relationship with those who may have been affected.

Build healthy habits for the future

Having identified the reasons and causes of the mistake, focus on what could have been done differently and how to carry your learning forward. Resist the temptation to chastise yourself or become highly self-critical. Recognise the mistake, identify the learning, and move on armed with this contribution to your growth.

How do you embrace your own mistakes?


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