HomeBlog ⋅ How to Recover Easily from a Mistake

How to Recover Easily from a Mistake

April 10th, 2015 by Annette

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”
Miles Davis

So you’ve made a mistake in an important meeting- one that looks big right now.

You’re feeling… what is it? Confused?

Rattled. (I am feeling flushed.)
Stunned. (I can’t believe I caved like that!”)
Puzzled. (“I was so prepared. How did that happen?”)

Ashamed? (“How will I break the news to my team?)

I know that feeling.

I just had it last week.

But it doesn’t help to know that you’re not alone, does it? Making a mistake like that makes you want to go back in time – to change what happened.

You replay the event with self-recrimination and shame. You can’t find the silver lining because you’re busy obsessing over how awful it felt, the look on her face, the way the room seemed to close in on you…

Maybe you just have to live with it for awhile.

Or not.

Last week, I had this exact experience. I was blindsided in a meeting – I’ll keep the details vague to protect the identity of the other party. Let’s just say, I didn’t say what needed to be said. And when I left the meeting, I felt my mistake rise up around me.

There was a time I would have curled up and gotten smaller, quieter.
Retreated.

Maybe I would have blamed the other party.
Most likely, though, I would have just blamed myself.

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.”
Mary Pickford

I had 20 minutes before my next meeting. So I had a short talk with myself as I yanked up my Spanx in the bathroom stall. Two minutes later, I walked into my next pitch emboldened and with my eyes brightly fixed on the future.

What were the magic words?

What I said doesn’t really matter. What mattered most? My next note. I exercised my freedom to choose. In that moment, I had control over my perceptions and I made them work for me.

Instead of shrinking in the face of failure, I was strengthened by it. I wasn’t going to let that failure determine the future.
I would use it to inspire the future.

This is FREEDOM. Free of the usual stories, of self-condemnation and regret, I walked in to my next meeting and nailed one of the biggest successes of the year.

Owned it
Replayed it without an ounce of self-condemnation
Assessed the situation
Mined for value and pivot points

It’s easy to go down the path of not trusting yourself when you’re surprised by a mistake (or an unmet expectation).

But next time, I want you to try something different.

I want you to know it’s just as easy to be bolder, courageous, and FREE.

Follow these 3 steps to recover from failure:

Control your perception of the situation.
Observe how the replay happens in your head. Now decipher the facts and opinions. You’ll need to separate the facts from your opinions of them. (They are NOT the same) What was said? What was done? This tiny pivot gets you back in the driver’s seat.

Take Ownership.
The mistake doesn’t own your future. You do. Assess the situation, mine for value, and put the shame aside. This not-so tiny pivot transforms your setback to a springboard.

Plan to expand.
Decide what your next move is based on the future you want. What actions will you take? And who will you BE while taking them?

Now move physically. Take a deep breath. Stand and stretch your arms – imagine your physical presence as BIG as you possibly can. Breathe in the power from that stance.

Mistakes force us to make a decision. You can expand or contract. The choice is yours. Be bold and remember: failure is not falling down, it’s staying down. Your next note is what matters most.


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