So you stuffed up at work? Sent a text you regret to a friend? Posted something in anger online?
It happens, it's entirely human to make mistakes, and do things we wouldn't usually set out with the intention to do. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or is a sign to give up. As the timeless song repeats 'we're only human.' I guess the most important thing here is how you react to these mistakes. If you let the mistake derail you, one smaller error can have a snowball effect and lead to much larger issues. Maybe you’ve tried to hide the mistake, and it’s blown up in your face, or it grew exponentially while you tried to ignore it.
The best thing to do when you make a mistake is to take a breath, step back and evaluate the situation. You might need to let someone know as there may be flow on implications that affect others, or certain processes in place to deal with it. Once you have thoroughly evaluated the situation, you can then make a plan to adequately remedy or deal with the mistake as best you can. You may need to ask other people for help or discuss the problem with people you trust. It may be a simple as reflecting on your mistake and offering a sincere apology, or there may be internal work processes that you have to go through.
"It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."
~ Bill Gates
When I made a mistake on the second week at my new job, I was completely freaking out. I think I was a lot more worried than anyone else at the company, who kept telling me it was okay and it had happened before. It was highly likely that the issue was going to be fixed in a few days with no one the wiser, but I’d catastrophised the entire situation in my head and kept thinking about the worst case scenarios.
I did get straight onto fixing the mistake and followed it up until a resolution was obtained, but the entire experience taught me a huge lesson. Ever since that day I have been twice as diligent about checking my work and making sure I don’t make a mistake like that again (although I'm confident that won’t be the last mistake I ever make in my career).
I think the most important takeaway here for me when I make an error in the future, is to take a step back and come up with a plan of attack, resolve the problem and put strategies in place, so you don’t repeat it in the future. We can learn so much from our failures and mix-ups, so it’s important to recognise and reflect on the learning points brought up by mistakes and mishaps.