(Read time: 3 minutes)
Mistakes …(sigh) we all make them. Let’s admit, some of us don’t have the best coping strategies for dealing with mistakes we’ve made. I mean no one teaches this in school. Learning how to cope is important, because how we deal, can actually affect our decision to pursue goals out of our comfort zone, or deter us from doing so all together. So how do you bounce back from a mistake exactly? Here are some tips:
Do not let the mistake define you
When we make a big mistake, it can be a painful experience for many of us. We may play the mistake in our head over and over again. We often beat ourselves up about it. We let the mistake measure our competence and worth. We let the mistake define us. Ironically, it is a mistake to let our mistakes define us! One action cannot and should not define us.
Change your mindset
If you are feeling down about your mistake, the first thing you should do is change your mindset. Carol Dweck has a life changing book called Mindset. In it she introduces two mindsets that we adopt. She calls one the fixed mindset and the other the growth mindset.
According to Carol Dweck, people with the fixed mindset believe their qualities “are carved in stone”. This mindset creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. For people with the fixed mindset, “every situation is evaluated. Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? Your traits are a hand your dealt and have to live with.”
Dweck explains that people with the growth mindset believe “the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. Your basic qualities are something you can cultivate through your efforts. It’s impossible to see what can be accomplished with years of hard work and training.” People with the growth mindset typically have thoughts like: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?”
Changing mindsets is simply a matter of being aware of the two that exist and changing the types of thoughts you have, which in turn will affect your reactions to situations and your behavior.
See it as a Learning Opportunity
Changing your mindset can be powerful. Essentially, changing your mindset to the growth mindset will help change the meaning of the mistake you made. It will help you associate the mistake with the opportunity for growth and improvement instead of with failure.
So the next time you make a mistake, ask yourself as Carol Dweck put it “Do you think you are failing or do you think you are learning?” Believe me, no matter how down or embarrassed you may feel about the mistake you made, think about which mindset serves you. Which mindset will help you take the best step forward? Embracing a mistake as a learning opportunity is ALWAYS the best approach.
If you made a mistake, figure out how to minimize the chances of that mistake happening in the future. For example, if you often forget to add attachments in your emails then maybe you need to add an extra step in your process. Create a checklist when you’re sending an email out, of all the things you should double check, to avoid this mistake in the future. It will help refine your process and you won’t be worried about making the same mistake again.