by Paul Casey

How to Learn from Your Mistake

Some people just have to learn things the hard way. Maybe they are kinesthetic learners or maybe just too proud to take wise advice fro others who have learned from experience.

I reflected on this after seeing a car in a ditch, with emergency vehicles surrounding it. What does it do for traffic that passes by? You know. Everyone slows down and thinks, “Whew! How sad for them! Hope and pray that they are OK.” And, maybe or maybe not, they adjust their speed for a while so that the road conditions don’t put THEM in the next ditch.

Regardless of whether you make an error in judgment or you observe someone else in a bad-decision-ditch, there is always an opportunity to learn from that mistake. Without adequate reflection, mistakes turn into patterns that become destructive to lives and careers and relationships. It’s the ole adage of problems becoming stepping stones or stumbling blocks, based on what you do with them.

Learn from mistakes by:

  • Slowing down enough to feel the negative impact. While it wouldn’t be helpful to sit in depression over it for days, it is essential to give yourself time to reflect on what happened. Running past the issue minimizes the learning opportunity for better future choices.
  • Reflecting on what led up to the bad choice.
    • What were the chain of events?
    • What danger/red flags were ignored?
    • Who were you listening to (literally, or the rationalizing voice in your head)?
    • What more minor poor choices had you been making more regularly that culminated in this larger mistake?
    • What unmet need were you trying to fulfill, and how were you behaving impatiently to get it?
  • Processing the situation verbally with someone you respect. Journaling is great to get your feelings on paper, yet there is something powerful that triggers learning when we talk about what happened with a trusted person. Their questions will probably make you think more deeply about how to grow forward for the future.
  • Making a commitment. Emerging from the darkness, some solutions will come to your mind for not getting in this mess again. Which one(s) will you now turn into a personal action plan? Be sure they are actionable, not just philosophical, so that you can turn them into new habits.  Find a success partner to hold you accountable with check-ins on your plan.

Then it’s time to climb out of the ditch: Forgive yourself, leave the past in the past, deal humbly/patiently with the consequences, and eagerly live your next day with the positivity of knowing you are growing forward!

Are you part of a team or association that needs guest speakers to inspire their members? I’d love to pump them up! Contact me at to book me for 2019.




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