Warren Buffet once said:
“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”
I wish I was better at learning from other people’s mistakes to avoid making so many of my own. I’ve made some incredible mistakes, a few of which were very costly and time-consuming. I’ve also learned from many of my mistakes and I believe I’m a stronger and wiser person for going through them. I’ve learned a lot from reflecting on what caused the mistakes I made. From that process, I feel confident that I can pass on a few tips to help both you and I make better decisions in the future.
Being cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses is a great start to avoiding a big blunder. If you can recognize and objectively view what your strengths are and the areas for which you need help and support, this can go a long way to recognizing trouble and avoiding it. Here are examples:
• You are in sales and you are great at selling but terrible at organization. You hire an assistant to keep you organized.
• You are an attorney and you are great at practicing law but terrible with finances. You hire an accountant to pay your bills and keep your books on track.
In each of these cases, the person was self-aware enough to know their weaknesses and mitigate the weakness. Think of the catastrophe that could have happened if the sales person didn’t hire an assistant or if the attorney didn’t hire an accountant. Either situation could have resulted in a BIG mistake.
I’m not a fan of dwelling on mistakes but you do need to take enough time to analyze what went wrong with your decision making.
• Did you make the decision too quickly?
• Did you not have enough information to make a better decision?
• Was there peer pressure that skewed your view of the situation?
• Were you thinking of all of the positives of what could happen and none of the negatives?
Think about what went wrong. How will you avoid making the same mistake when another opportunity arises? Don’t be afraid to ask others for an objective view of your blunder and what went wrong. No one knows your thinking of the situation better than you, but it could provide an outside perspective that you hadn’t thought of and you can include that in your assessment of what went wrong.
After you had time to reflect what went wrong it’s time to ….
LET IT GO!
I don’t care how big the mistake was, if you have reflected long enough to learn from it and you have resolved any remaining issues with all involved, LET IT GO! Dwelling on the past keeps you from focusing on the future and making decisions to better yourself and your business. Some people spend 5, 10…20 years recovering from a mistake instead of moving on. Self-doubt is a natural response to making mistakes. You doubt your ability to make a good decision the next time a big opportunity arises. When self-doubt arises, a good exercise is to make a conscious effort to think about all of the big WINS (i.e. good decisions) you have made. Think about your qualifications, write down all of the big decisions you got right! You will quickly realize you have made some awesome decisions that were correct.
There is no reward without risk. By learning from your mistakes instead of dwelling on them, you can move your business forward with your full focus and without fear.