By Trevor Blake, author of “Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life“
As human beings, we are bound to make mistakes. They are embarrassing, to say the least, and your first instinct, especially within leader positions, might be to cover your tracks. One of the clear signs of emotional maturity however is the ability to admit to a mistake and take responsibility. I have a lot of respect for people who admit their errors, apologize, and move on. Such a level of maturity is far beyond those who blame everybody but themselves.
Everyone makes mistakes. Beating yourself up over something that didn’t turn out well is not going to solve anything. Take the approach rather that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. With this line of thinking, you can focus on your next steps rather than waste time in regretting the previous ones. The right answer for a situation is often obvious when looking back – but that certainty only comes with the knowledge that is available after the fact.
Although I recognize my mistakes, I don’t dwell on them. Mistakes are a sign that you are progressing. If you aren’t making mistakes, then you are probably not moving forward. The key is to never repeat the same mistake. You have to recognize your error, make a mental note, and change the system to prevent a repeat occurrence.
The ability to adapt, particularly within a small business, is crucial to success. Every day things are constantly changing. You can’t possibly predict what will happen from one day to the next — but regardless, when you’re building a business you have to be constantly moving forward. There is simply no time to ponder how a different decision would have played out. Good or bad, a choice was made and there is nothing you can do after the fact but move forward — hopefully with more open eyes.
The difference between a good company and a mediocre company is that a good one recognizes mistakes and makes a genuine effort to fix them. A good company ensures that there are systems and people in place to prevent any repetition of error. You’re not helping yourself by hiding the mistakes you make, because they are great opportunities to learn and improve. Taking responsibility for them not only earns you a level of respect, but it ultimately strengthens your business.
It’s not about the mistake you made. It’s how you recover from it.
Trevor Blake, author of “Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life“, was founder and CEO of QOL Medial LLC, a specialty pharmaceutical company he started in 2002 with a few thousand dollars and sold in 2010 for over 100 million. In 2006 he founded ANU, a unique not-for-profit dedicated to developing low side-effect cancer drugs.