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What You Should Do When You Mess Up

Kasha Thompson @kayslay_allday

Photo: Photographer: Varvara Grabova

We all make mistakes at work, at home, and with the ones we love. The dictionary defines a mistake as “an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong.” Oftentimes, when we do something that is misguided or wrong, we want to distance ourselves from that action as quickly as possible. This article will look at the best ways to move past a mistake.

First, to move past a mistake you have to own it. You have to acknowledge the wrong you did and how your actions were out of step with your personal values. You need to acknowledge the hurt that it potentially caused others. You can’t correct something you don’t acknowledge. The first step to correcting a situation is admitting there is a problem.

Now that you have acknowledged the mistake you have to figure out how to correct it. Saying that you’re sorry and admitting that you were wrong isn’t a weakness, it's a sign of strength. Remember, public mistakes require a public apology. You want to correct the mistake with everyone it may have impacted. So, if you call someone out on social media only to later learn that you had inaccurate information, you need to go to that same forum to offer amends. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing but it is also the grown-up thing to do.

Make a commitment to do better in the future. If you missed something important at work, you need to own up to it, make amends, and then create a plan to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Mistakes are learning opportunities. If you choose not to grow and learn from your mistakes, they will remain mistakes forever.

Allow for grace. Grace for yourself and for others. Accept that mistakes will happen. Be willing to offer and accept apologies that shows ownership of the error and actions that reinforce a desire to change. Making mistakes sucks, but how you deal with those mistakes is where true character lies.


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