On Making Mistakes | Sean John Thompson
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On Making Mistakes

It’s easy to sit and dwell on a mistake made.

To think over and over again what might have been if things were a bit different. Perhaps if you had slowed down a bit and taken a little more time the mistake would have been avoided.

Or if maybe you just checked on last time. You could have enlisted the help of a colleague to make sure that the work was without error.  But you didn’t, so the mistake shipped despite your best intentions.

Yes, it’s easy to beat yourself up and overthink what could have been.

What’s difficult is that acknowledgment that the mistake occurred and summoned the will power and mental fortitude to move past it. That part is hard.

For some seemingly masochistic reason, we tend to play the various scenarios in our heads, each time digging ourselves a little deeper and chipping away at our self-confidence ever so slowly.

The truth is that the most advantageous and correct path is to apologize if warranted and move on. Yes, cliche and easier said than done, but it is the logical decision.

Most times the impact of the mistake is negligible compared to the self-inflicted damage, and mental energy wasted thinking about what could have been.

We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge, recap, avoid and then move on – quickly. It’s important that we look back briefly to conduct an objective post-mortem that is not about self-defeat, but rather for future reference. A roadmap on how we can avoid this or other mistakes in the future.

A mistake I made early this week is a topic that is fresh in my mind, and I have been dwelling on that error for most of the week. That is a waste of time when I take a step back and look at it objectively. Intuitively I know that, but it doesn’t quite compute.

I owe it to myself to learn to understand that everyone makes mistakes. To take that to heart and think about it deeply. We are all human and frail in our abilities. Not one of us is perfect. I will, you will, he will, she will, and we all will make mistakes. In life, in work, and in every other context we find ourselves.

Having high standards for quality and work product is not the issue. Those are a prerequisite for a job well done. What we need to know is that mistakes are a point of reflection rather than a pain point. Acknowledge the error made, apologize if warranted and then focus on what you can do in your power to avoid and learn from them.

Choose the more difficult option. Move on from your mistake rather than taking the easy way out and dwelling on an occurrence that is innately human.

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