How to Learn From Our Mistakes by @Barbclifford

How to Learn From Our Mistakes
by Barbara Clifford | Featured Contributor

The hardest thing to face about success is that failure is often a useful part of the process. Here are some ideas on how you can make your mistakes worthwhile.

Own it

There’s no point trying to put lipstick on a pig.  
Don’t try to sugar-coat it, don’t try to hide it.  Be honest and wear it, own it.  The first step in transforming your mistakes is to take responsibility.  Part of being assertive is about feeling confident to make mistakes and knowing you can handle whatever comes your way.
If you start blaming others, you lose the opportunity to learn.

thought for the day mistakeTake a Moment to Reflect

Consider where it went wrong, what went wrong and why. Once you have given yourself time to reflect, ask yourself what you would do differently next time.  This can be a bitter pill to swallow, yet I have learnt from working with Entrepreneurs that this becomes vital learning.  While discussing ideas around advertising and marketing, I would flag ideas, often the idea would be dismissed or altered based on knowledge from past failures (‘last time we did that, this happened’). So when you find yourself in the same or similar situation in the future, you’ll know exactly what to do.  Don’t be afraid to ask your peers, mentors or someone you trust for their insight also.

Remain positive

Don’t become despondent or beat yourself up.  Don’t allow disappointment or embarrassment to take over, keep asking yourself “What is the lesson I have learnt from this? How does the learning benefit me?” until you have a strong answer.  Were you out of your depth?  If you didn’t understand what was required, perhaps this has demonstrated where you can grow and what learning you require. You’ll know what questions to ask next time and when to ask them.  Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to simply say “I don’t understand”.

Be solution orientated

While working with a highly successful entrepreneur, I was able to increase my level of responsibilities and be promoted, by being responsible.  Not only would I take ownership for my mistakes, I would inform my boss about what I would do differently next time and what I propose to do to rectify the situation.  Through this attitude, he mentored me into better positions and supported my learning. It’s about maintaining the right attitude; where you put your energy affects your professional relationships.

Remain Calm

thought for the day stressThere is no point in worrying or stressing over a situation.  The best thing you can do is remain calm and try not to let stress take control.  Allow yourself some time to “sleep on it” if you can.  Give yourself some thinking time.  Try to remain calm, composed and avoid making impulse, knee-jerk decisions to try and hide or remedy a situation.

 Take stock

Try to put things into perspective.  Consider other mistakes in the past and how you have learnt from them and overcome them, over time.  In fact, some of my most horrific professional experiences have become major foundational learnings for me today.  In time you’ll learn to appreciate this mistake as you have before.  The sooner you can find the lessons in it, the better.  Don’t allow this to inhibit future decisions, know that through your broad experience you ar stronger and wiser.


  • Work out went wrong and where
  • Be accountable
  • own it and offer a solution


  • Allow the mistake to prevent you from having another go
  • blame others for your mistake
  • Immediately try to fix or cover the error, you could make it worse




Share :