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Owning our mistakes, learning from our failures

The biggest mistake is not owning our mistakes! It's denying our humanity and setting ourselves up for failure. Once we take ownership of any mistake we might have made, we can learn from it and use it as a stepping stone to further growth and success.

Recognising is the first step

At times, we don't even realise we've made a mistake, so when things go wrong it's best to start from the inside out. Questioning ourselves first might help save us from blaming other people or events and prevent further mistakes. We need to objectively look out for signs that point back in our direction. This is very different from blaming ourselves and feeling guilt, remorse or embarrassment. The idea is to trace back to why the error was made without judgement.

At other times, we know we've messed up but perhaps we are too embarrassed to admit it or fear the consequences would be too severe. We might be tempted to hide our gaffe which only aggravates the situation, starting a domino-effect. It’s often when we hide our mistakes and they’re found out that people lose their respect and trust in us. We might also be enticed to self-justify and shrug the whole thing off but rather than dismissing it as "not my fault, it was just a mistake", we can take ownership of our wrongdoing, however big or small and face the consequences.

It takes courage

Courage is one of the most powerful qualities that we possess.

It takes courage to acknowledge our failures and not define ourselves by them. It takes courage to learn to see mistakes not as terrible personal traits to be denied or justified. It takes courage to embrace our vulnerability as fallible humans.

Surrounding ourselves with people who are willing to point out our shortcomings and hold us accountable requires courage from both sides. Superficially, we might prefer those who please us, do not contradict us and massage our egos. But those who give us an honest feedback and do it out of love are the ones who will truly help us thrive.

Changing the mindset

Dr Carol Dweck describes in her book "Mindset" why it's not just our talents and skills that lead to success but rather how we approach life and its challenges - our mindset - that ultimately defines us. A fixed mindset judges people as either winners or losers, intelligent or stupid, naturally talented or having to work hard. A growth mindset fosters development and improvement through nurturing, learning, hard work and resilience.

The truth is that perfection is the killer and striving to be perfect can only lead to disappointment. If we don't view and accept our mistakes as opportunities for growth and ultimately success, we will stagnate or worse, give up.

Olympic Skier and entrepreneur, Jeremy Bloom utilised his mistakes and defeats to power his progress. In his book "Fueled by Failure"he gives an authentic account of how he has become the successful person he is today.


Feeling disappointed when we realise we've made a mistake or failed is natural and human. It's best to allow the emotions just be. But rather than wallow in sorrow, procrastinate or arrogantly dismiss, we can turn that energy into learning and strengthening our capacity to bounce back and grow.

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