Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
Learn and Profit from Past Mistakes
By Victoria Munro
Before you set goals and move forward in 2010, pause and look back. If you’ve been beating yourself up over mistakes you made last year (or before), stop! They could be your best friends—teaching you priceless lessons for future success. Top athletes spend hours after games poring over film replays, examining every move, analyzing each mistake to learn and improve every nuance of their play.
In his fascinating new book How We Decide, author Jonah Lehrer explains the neuroscience behind decision-making. He describes how world-class chess master, Bill Robertie, winner of the U.S. speed chess championship and winner of the World Champion of Backgammon, hones his skills by studying his past plays. “He knows that self-criticism is the secret to self-improvement; negative feedback is the best kind.”
Mistakes are an essential part of healthy growth and self-improvement. Studies show that children excel when not chided for mistakes, but encouraged to find solutions and praised for their ingenuity in putting them right.
Mistakes are inevitable if you’re growing a business. If you’re going to accomplish anything great, you’ll have to take risks and will inevitably make mistakes. Albert Einstein was right when be said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
In order to learn from and avoid repeating mistakes, don’t:
||Refuse to admit your mistakes.
||Allow perfectionism to stop you from taking risks.
||Get upset with yourself and others when you discover mistakes. This makes it worse, and could prevent you from learning valuable lessons.
||Fear putting yourself in positions where you’re likely to make mistakes.
||Waste mistakes. Determine to learn all you can from them.
Stop and Learn from Past Mistakes
We all make mistakes, but the very act of stopping to look at past mistakes can help avoid repeating them. Think about what caused the mistake: were you in a hurry, perhaps multitasking at the time and not focused on the task at hand? Did you fail to stop, look over and double check your work, or have someone else check it for you? Reflecting on how you plan to handle similar situations next time can minimize future mistakes.
Reframe How You View Mistakes
Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times to create the light bulb, but he viewed these ‘mistakes’ as eliminating ways that didn’t work. He saw each ‘mistake’ as a step closer to the winning solution.
So before you look forward and plan for the year ahead, take some time to look back and learn from past mistakes. It may put you light years ahead.
If you’d like to learn more on this topic, Why We Make Mistakesby Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph T. Hallinan gives some eye-opening reasons for the mistakes we make. His points are illustrated by some reallyinteresting real-life stories.
© 2005-2010 Victoria Munro.
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About the Author: Victoria Munro is
co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly®
LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for
small-business owners through creatively designed programs
and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different
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