A growing body of research suggests that mistakes actually enrich learning if you adopt a positive mindset about them. And even better than that news, there are actual practical steps you can take to turn your mistakes into opportunities.

Basic Principles for Learning From Mistakes:

  1. Recognize that there is always room for improvement. Many times we are so caught up in our own self-doubt that when something fails we only blame ourselves and venture down the path of “I should never have thought it would work,” or “I will never do that again”, or “I wish I never went to that seminar (listened to that friend of mine).” There are always excuses and the blame game that goes on. Why? We just assume someone had to be wrong! Well stop it! Instead understand that intelligence is something that grows. We grow with every experience unless we choose not to. When you choose instead to search for what that experience had in it for you to learn from or to just enhance your skill set as you move forward, you will start seeing mistakes differently…every experience carries value. Focus on that and your performance improves with practice and effort.
  2. Accept your imperfections. No one is perfect in other words, “we all make mistakes.” Successful people eat mistakes for lunch i.e. they know they will come and just analyze the events and grow from them. In fact, they grow accustomed to the word “next.” If we get anxious, it can definitely interfere with our ability to do our best. Assure yourself that it’s okay to make some mistakes until you get to the point that you have not emotion around it except for knowing you are that much closer to success. .
  3. Be personally accountable. You will always benefit from taking responsibility for your actions. Your character of honesty and openness is far more important than any specific transgression. So never compromise you. Accepting personal responsibility puts aside all the stress we create as humans when we play the coverup game. It is especially clear when outside circumstances beyond your control may have interfered with the results and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We should never give away our power to circumstances outside our control.
  4. Set realistic goals. Sometimes our actions are not reasonable so that is always step one…be reasonable in your actions and expectations. Progress virtually always comes from one step at a time and we can get anxious to get to results faster than projected. This is where taping into others who have more experience that you have can pay in spades. Collaboration is critical but our egos many times step in the way.
  5. Reduce your risks. Again, whenever starting a new venture or going down a new path, the most critical step we can in most instances make is working with mentors, others who may have paved the way with the experience that you are lacking. Our egos get in the way and then we wonder why we pay a price. So many traps we fall into with new businesses have been “tripping up” others for years so one easy call away could have avoided it. Why don’t we do it? Pride…mental mindset that somehow that makes us look weak. Do your research and let your ego go! Also, you may want to maintain another source of cash flow as you pursue ideas for starting a business.
  6. Engage in positive afformations. Building a terrific supportive self-talk is critical to build a person’s confidence If you’ve been conditioned to feel uncomfortable about errors, and trust me, no one likes to make mistakes, but discover what the basis is for that, then effectively reprogram your mind to be give yourself a new way to approach them. Recall past experiences where your efforts paid off. Give yourself credit for striving to do your best.
  7. See the humor in your mistakes. When we can convert our mistakes from putting us on an emotional roller coaster and instead, be able to laugh at ourselves on our new discovery of a way that doesn’t work, we will readily be removing the negative emotional effect of that event. We are able to avoid that lengthy path of lost time or even worse, lost self-respect. Laughing at setbacks will reduce stress and help you recover faster.
  8. Give praise strategically. Whether you’re talking with yourself or your spouse or with your children, always give praise for effort in attempting to accomplish something versus exhibiting frustration questioning your intelligence. It encourages you to focus on improving rather than trying to prove you are smart. It also is a superb way to encourage others to use their best efforts and “never give up.”
  9. Seek advice from others. If you’re starting to see a pattern in your mistakes, it may help to get some outside assistance and feedback. For example, if you are never quite reaching your perfect target market, perhaps hiring a professional marketer can support a better effort to maximize results. Fine-tuning approaches is always a great approach to produce the best possible results. But know it may take a number of attempts before you reach success. Cut yourself some slack.
  10. Appreciate the value of a sincere apology. When we inflict any kind of hurt or harm upon another the worst thing we can do is ignore it through our pain of having made a mistake. We start putting our own feelings ahead of others when we might have been the cause. Our willingness to offer a heartfelt apology and make appropriate restitution helps both parties to heal and move on with their lives.

Exercises for “Eating Mistakes for Lunch”

  1. Take on tough challenges. Venturing into new areas gives us more opportunities to learn. Stretch beyond your usual boundaries. Start moving outside of your comfort zones to take on new activities. through this process you can feel comfortable becoming a beginner which virtually guarantees you will make mistakes.
  2. Make educated guesses. Studies have shown that students acquire more knowledge and retain it longer when they guess at the answers before looking them up. Brainstorm how you would approach any specific project before consulting others with your ideas. Getting feedback is just that…feedback, and learn to “eat it for lunch.”

We all make mistakes, so carpe diem…seize the day…each one of these mistakes can be turned into triumphs by restating them. You can talk about each of them from the perspective of how they will help you, making them into an opportunity for them to work for you. Anytime we focus on improving our ability toward a given project we reinforce our motivation and we experience less anxiety through our learning process building more self-confidence.