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Mistakes Will Happen, But Don’t Let Failure Define You

Most successful people agree that failure is inevitable. But that doesn’t make it easy. When you don’t get the results you want, it can be disappointing.

At work, you may fear that your failures will follow you around for your entire career. This fear is even worse when it’s your fault

It is difficult when things don’t work out because of circumstances beyond your control, but what do you do when you’ve messed up?

Here’s how to quickly rebound from big mistakes at work.

Own it

So you’ve made a mistake, and it’s big. Maybe your first instinct is to protect yourself, get defensive and look for any other reason that things might have gone wrong. It’s not always easy to admit when we’ve made a mistake, but it is absolutely imperative that you come clean when you do. Many bad things have been known to happen when people hide their mistakes.

Your boss and your co-workers will respect you for having the courage to accept responsibility for your actions. What they won’t respect is a list of excuses of why everyone but you caused the failure.

Make amends

It’s not enough merely to admit you were wrong and stop there. As much as the situation allows, you will need to make it right. If you are working with customers, that may mean giving refunds, doing free work or in some other way demonstrating that you care about keeping their business.

The same idea holds for mistakes that affect your boss or others on your team. You may have to put forth extra effort to recover lost ground and regain their trust.

Learn from it

When something fails because of your actions, your team needs to trust that you won’t make the same mistake again. That can only happen if you show that you have learned from the situation.

After a number of projects, a team will have a “lessons learned” report or meeting to discuss what went well and what could have been better. You can adopt the same idea for your own actions. Think about what led up to the failure and what you could have done differently. Commit to doing better the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

Don’t replay the point

I used to play tennis in high school, and my coach would often point out how my game crumbled after a badly-played point. “Play the ball in front of you,” he would say. What he meant was to stop replaying the bad point in my mind and focus on winning the point I was playing.

The same is true in life. After you have acknowledged a mistake, made amends and learned from it, it is time to move on. Research has shown that ruminating on past mistakes can even be harmful to your health.

Step up

To really make sure that mistakes don’t leave a lasting stain on your reputation and relationships, you will need to double your efforts at work. This may mean taking on extra work or volunteering for jobs that no one wants. If you have been doing just enough to get along, now is the time to commit to excelling. In time, your hard work will be what others remember, and not your mistakes.

Mistakes will happen. Acknowledge and learn from them. They don’t have to leave a negative impression. Remember this quote from Zig Ziglar: “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.”

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