Mistakes. We all make them. Some big. Some small.
Then there are those we carry with us. The ones we can recount years later, hopefully on one hand (maybe two).
Most folks will say “put it behind you” or “move on.” While that is commendable advice, some mistakes require addressing before that.
If you get that sinking feeling in your belly, it’s not going to go away. Having trouble sleeping? The mistake has to be addressed.
Likely, the mistakes that don’t sit well are those that involve other people. For example, delivering something late may not keep us up at night. If it impacts someone else’s work, that’s a different matter.
No matter how big a mistake, there are steps we can take to move forward.
1. Own It
Apologize. Genuinely. Demonstrate an understanding of the wrong – what it is and why it is.
2. Fix It
If possible, undo, redo and/or fix whatever the mistake is. If this is not possible, the best we can do is…
3. Prevent It
Consider the root cause of the mistake. What could be done differently next time to preclude it from happening again? The only way mistakes turn into failure is if we fail to learn from them.
4. Close It
Once you’ve done what you can to make things right, and keep them right, let it go. Get a good night’s sleep, as you’ve done what you can.
5. Check It
While it is important to move on, it is equally important to ensure the mistake is a one time event. We can all reflect, whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually on how we’re doing relative to our goals. Add a checkpoint regarding prevention measures to ensure they are still appropriate and working as intended.
There is no time table for these steps. The important part is to begin. The sooner we apologize and try to make it right, however, the more likely it is that we can salvage a relationship that might otherwise be at risk.