Making Mistakes At Work

Mistakes; I’ve made a few.

Actually, I’ve made quite a lot of them. But who hasn’t?

No one likes to mess up, especially at work, but I’ll bet all my money, my dog, my wardrobe and my secret supply of chocolate on the fact that there’s not a human on this planet who hasn’t made the occasional whoopsie on the job, from time to time.

You’ve heard it before, but everyone makes mistakes. No one is immune from the odd blunder. Some are small mis-steps and some are big, fat, detrimental life ruiners but either way, no matter how hard we try to lead a seemingly faultless, perfect life, no one can avoid messing up.

This mistake itself, however, is very rarely the problem. Anyone who has ever made a blunder in their job will know that it’s how you handle it which determines the outcome. So with that in mind, and inspired by something stupid I did this week (don’t ask, I’m still getting over it), I’m offering my best advice on how to deal with making a mistake at work.

1. Put Your Hands Up 

I think for most people, when we make a mistake it’s our first instinct to try and quietly fix it without telling anyone, to save face and avoid getting in trouble. And on most occasions, this can lead to further problems. I once heard someone say, “It’s not the crime that kills you, it’s the cover up” and this couldn’t be more true.

If you’ve done something wrong, tell those who need to know as they might help assess the scale of the problem and fingers crossed, they might be able to offer a staightforward solution. The longer you hide it, the more it will snowball and the more time you will spend riddled with anxiety.

Honesty is always the best policy. You’ll feel better about being open and your boss or manager will appreciate your forthcomingness.

2. Don’t Pass The Buck

Blaming someone else for your mistake is possibly the worst response. If the mistake is your fault, take full responsibility for your actions. Just own it, no matter how scary the prospect is, because passing the buck will endanger your professional relationships and make you much less trustworthy.

And also, once the issue dies down, if you have any morals at all, you’ll feel like an asshole for doing it.

3. Offer Suggestions

If you do make a mistake, when approaching your boss to admit your responsibility, make sure you have a solution or two in mind.

This will lessen the blow and demonstrate that you can deal with issues in a calm, rational, mature and appropriate way, without leaving others to clean up your mess. Rather than throwing your hands up, shouting “fuck dis shit” and running away, think carefully about what you can do to fix it. This is an admirable and sought after quality in an employee.

4. Don’t Just Quit

I have a terrible, TERRIBLE habit of running away from my problems when the going gets a little bit tough because I’m scared of being perceived as stupid, careless or imperfect. However, a quitting attitude will do nothing for your personal growth. And you’ll soon discover that if you run from problems, they will follow you. If you don’t address the root cause of the issue and why it occurred, it will keep repeating forever and ever until you learn.

If you look at the lives of successful people in any field at all, you will find the the common thread which binds them together is their unwillingness to give up. JK Rowling, as just one example, took Harry Potter to like, a bazillion publishers who all told her it was a pile of horse shit. But she kept going, without letting negativity get the better of her and now she’s a badass rich bitch who can make it rain any time she likes. Adopt this approach and you will never let a mistake defeat you again.

5. Ask Yourself  – What Am I Supposed To Learn From This?

Once you shift your perception of mistakes and see them instead as lessons, your whole life will change. I promise you that. If we did things perfectly all the time, we would learn absolutely nothing. You learn ten times more from what you’ve done wrong, than from what you’ve done right.

Every time you mess up, ask “what can I learn from this?” and see it not as a block in the road, but as a bridge to a whole new awareness. Forgive yourself, really forgive yourself, don’t beat yourself up and let your mistakes guide you, rather than define you.

-The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.-

6. Mistakes Will Help You Deal With Fear

Life is not about doing everything right all the time. It’s about embracing the mistakes, learning from them and discovering more about yourself when doing so.

Once you’ve made a few a major hiccups that you first thought would ruin your life, you’ll become a lot more able to deal with whatever comes your way. What doesn’t kill  you makes you stronger and all that jazz.

So next time you make a mistake, and unfortunately there WILL be a next time if you’re human, don’t let it get the better of you. You’ve gone through shitty situations before and you’re still standing. So whatever happens; deal with it, learn from it, chill the fuck out and move the fuck on.

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