7 Ways to
Learn from Mistakes

7 Ways to Learn from Mistakes

M istakes. Everyone makes them. They are an essential part of that what makes us human. Mistakes are a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving yourself. That doesn’t make it easier to admit you’ve made a mistake, though…

Beware, because the following statement runs counter to the cultural assumptions we have about mistakes and failure [namely that they are shameful things]: you can learn and grow from a mistake. But you can only learn and grow from a mistake if you are able to admit you’ve made it.

As soon as you start blaming other people, you distance yourself from any possible lesson.

If you are able to courageously stand up and honestly say, ‘This is my mistake and I am responsible’ the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, moves the focus away from blame and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they do.

The kind of mistakes you make define you. The more interesting your mistakes, the more interesting your life. If your biggest mistakes are missing reruns of tv-shows or buying the wrong lottery ticket you’re not challenging yourself enough. Because learning from mistakes requires three things:
* You have to be willing to put yourself in situations where you can make interesting mistakes,
* you have to have the self-confidence to admit to them and
* you have to be courageous about making changes.

Not making mistakes is actually the biggest mistake you can ever make. So make them, learn from them and grow. Today, seven ways to learn from mistakes:

Take 100% responsibility

Accepting responsibility makes learning possible. Blaming others for your mistakes will neither get you anywhere nor do you any good. As soon as a situation starts going south, make the only mature and responsible move possible: stand up and own up to the mistake. Take 100% responsibility, accept the consequences and be part of the solution to the problem. The sooner you accept responsibility, the sooner the problem is identified, the sooner a resolution is possible and that minimizes consequences.

Pinpoint the cause of the mistake

Knowing why you made the mistake is key in learning from it. Pinpointing the cause will also help you avoid repeating it next time. Determine the specific [lack of] action that led to the mistake. Figure out what triggered the series of missteps. Take the time to look into the events and if there are things that need to be improved, take some time to work on them. Make the necessary changes, to see the positive results.

Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake

Don’t beat yourself up over the mistakes that you made. You are not expected to be perfect except by yourself. In the introduction of this post above I wrote ‘The kind of mistakes you make define you.’ That can be better defined as ‘The way you handle and overcome your mistakes defines you.’ With every mistake that you make you discover more about yourself, about who you are, about your limits, your capabilities, about what you can and cannot do.

Growth starts when you see room for improvement

Making mistakes makes you understand that you are not perfect. And perfection doesn’t exist, really. Only your intentions of doing your best. Perfection leaves no room for improvement. It’s the mistakes that give you room for improvement, room for growth. Know that the lessons you will learn and master out of all the mistakes you make along your way through life are most important.

Move on fearlessly
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George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.’ The fear of being nothing, achieving nothing and becoming nothing should be way bigger than the fear of making mistakes. You cannot change the mistakes that are made in the past but you can take the lesson learnt and apply it when necessary. Don’t move forward through life with a sense of fear for making mistakes. The moment you see mistakes as lessons rather than mistakes, you will no longer have this crazy fear of encountering them along your journey. Move on fearlessly!

Apologize if necessary

If an apology is in order, make it a real apology, not something lame and self-protective. Apologizing for a mistake that you made, which affected someone, can make a big difference. By apologizing, you are showing courage. It makes you an authentic and sincere person. It takes courage to stand in front of someone and admit that you did something wrong.

Keep your eye on the big picture

You gain confidence, courage and experience every time you make a new mistake and in time you will get better and better at the things you love to do. Remember Thomas Edison? He failed more than 10,000 times while working on the light bulb and in the end he succeeded. When you know exactly what you want and when you are able to see this in your mind’s eye, nothing, not one mistake, can stop you from moving forward or stop you from achieving your dreams.

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons. So the most important lesson is to trust that while mistakes are inevitable, if you can learn from the current one, you’ll also be able to learn from future ones. No matter what happens tomorrow you’ll be able to get value from it, and apply it to the day after that. Progress isn’t a straight line and if you keep learning you will have more successes than failures. The mistakes you make along the way will help you get to where you want to go.

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Mirjam Stoffels

Founder of seven2success, guest blogger at TEDx, Project Eve and 365 dagen succesvol. In my mission to make seven2success the biggest platform of knowledge and inspiration for women, by women, I want to inspire you with our content! Check us out on Facebook and Twitter! I’d love to connect! 
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