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Making the Most of Mess-Ups

Imagine this: You have missed a deadline, forgotten a commitment, or (fill in the blank with your own self-generated debacle). You probably feel bad that you let down someone who relies on you. You may even feel worse that you didn’t live up to your own high standard of performance and you let down yourself.

Most high-achievers are their own harshest critics. It’s natural to get down on yourself when you miss the mark but, as you know, a downward spiral of self-doubt and negativity won’t do much to correct the mistake or move your forward.

Instead, how about mining the gold from your “mess-up”?

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the Asset-Based Thinking approach to providing negative feedback to others: Telling The Truth Fast.

Now I’ll show you how you can use this course-correction process to help you face your own mistakes in a way that encourages (not discourages) you to keep on going and to take your performance to the next level.
1. Admit your mistake.
The key here is to assume a matter-of fact, journalistic mindset. No catastrophizing, no drama. Simply acknowledge to yourself what happened in the most neutral manner.

“I missed the deadline.”
2. Make the mistake matter.
Estimate the damage done and what it will take to repair the situation. Take action.

“I know the deadline was mission-critical. I will call the client immediately.”
3. Reflect.
Reflect on what you did to contribute to the mishap and how you will shift to avoid the problem in the future.

“I underestimated the time and effort it would take to make the deadline. Next time, I will measure my progress at regular intervals to make sure I’m keeping up.”

The Importance of Resilience

To lead positive, you must be confident, optimistic and resilient. Resilience or bouncing back is about regaining your equilibrium and showing up with at least as much enthusiasm and energy after you confront a setback as before.

Taking action puts you back on the road of progress and your resilience becomes a source of pride and renewed confidence.

 Photo by: cimddwc




Dr. Kathy Cramer

Kathryn D. Cramer, PH.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, The Cramer Institute