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Ask the Readers: What Do You Learn from Big, Nasty, Gut-Wrenching Mistakes?

surprised business manI don’t have to ask if you’ve ever made a mistake.

I know you have.

Being a human, interacting with the physical world means that you make mistakes once in awhile.

It’s not a fun fact – but there it is.

I know I’ve made them, personally, and that we at Mirasee have, on occasion, made them together.

It feels awful.

A terrible, sinking feeling in your stomach. A silent voice, screaming in your head. Your eyes widening until you think they might pop right out of their sockets.

It’s nasty.

But it happens to all of us – and there is no great mistake that doesn’t bring some small good, as well as the aforementioned flu-like symptoms.

What form does this little bit of good usually take?

Well, mistakes mean a few things…

  • They mean you’re stretching your limits.
  • They mean you’re taking risks.
  • They mean you’re learning.

It’s that last one I’m the most interested in today. We ran a really interesting Marketing Insights Podcast last week about business mistakes – but I think it needs a little more exploration – I want to hear from you!

There are a few ways to look at the learning that comes from making a good, walloping mistake.

When you screw something up – what do you think the best way to recover is?

How do you identify what caused the mistake in the first place?

How do you try to avoid making the same mistake in the future?

Let me know in the comments, folks – common business mistakes are, happily, the kind of thing you can learn from second hand!

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

12 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: What Do You Learn from Big, Nasty, Gut-Wrenching Mistakes?

  1. I think the best way to recover is to answer questions #2 and #3 – identify the cause and avoid the mistake in the future. Then I feel I’m in control, I won’t face this problem ever again!
    And to identify and avoid you need some kind of tracking system. For example I’m tracking my daily habits on a paper sheet. Every time I put a big minus sign in a checkbox (which means I didn’t do my habit this day) I’m forced to reflect on causes.

  2. hi Megan,

    To me, there are two types of mistakes:

    Silly mistakes you do a few times, then hopefully you avoid the next time… like buying info products but never consuming them…

    Big mistakes that teach you some key lessons… like when I’ve had my network of 200+ blogs hacked… I learned how to better protect my blogs and back up all files…

    I invite challenges in my life, and my business, as I know with each opportunity also comes an option to win or fail, and if I fail, I’m not stopping, I try once more, maybe take a different route.

    Hope it helps?

  3. “There are no mistakes in Jazz, only options.”
    Miles Davis

    Now I won’t take it that far but really if I start worrying about screwing up at this then my life has been too easy or something somewhere maybe needs a good look over.

    My point? I don’t worry anymore about this stuff.
    I try to tear it up.
    I am just getting all the code and starting to see the Matrix.

    Also, and this is really far out for me I like to read the Guy Kawisaki books about analytical stuff usually but this book LOVE IS LETTING GO OF FEAR has taught me as much about work, money and life than anything.

    I can tell you that when I hear people ruminating about something like this it usually is because they are wrong about why they are upset because it would mean something deeper.

    That’s it for me,

    Kyle Ohlenkamp

    PS- I do not know much and I like it better than when I knew it all.

  4. When I screw up, I blog about it to my customers. I invite them in on a emotional level. I ask their opinion about solutions. I ask them what they would do if they had made a similar mistake. I apologize if my blunder has hurt someone.
    I also sit down and examine where I stopped listening. Because mistakes often boil down to a tendency we have to move about our business with blinders on. If we stop, sit still, and look around, the answers are innumerable and often right before us. As long as we think we’ve got it under control, we’re mired down in ego, which sinks like a rock every time.
    The world is a community and if we treat our business as a community, we learn each and every day from those to be a part of it.

  5. I like what you said about ‘apologising’ in the podcast. So many apologies are said but not meant. There is an etiquette for apologising; basically the other person needs to feel that you mean it. Going back to your questions, the best way to recover is to 1) acknowledge that you made a mistake, 2) tell the other person what you’re going to do to correct it, and 3) actually correct it. How do you avoid making the same mistakes in the future? Well, I think if you were truly sorry, you’ll have no trouble remembering to not do the same thing again. Save your energy for your next mistake, which will no doubt be just around the corner.

  6. Well, first I allow myself a few minutes of being angry, upset, cry, mad or self-pity, whatever emotion decides to take front and center. Then after I get it out I go back and think about what led to that decision and listen to several things. I listen to my thoughts, I see the scenes in my mind’s eye that led up to it all the while paying attention to my gut or reaction. When I find the culprit I recognize it, expose it by speaking or writing what it is and then I forgive myself and let it go. I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water because even if I did make a mistake there is something else I need to see in the whole scenario that I can use for the next step or decision. All is not fodder.

  7. When I am about move forward in making a with a decision-right or wrong I allow 3 proactive thoughts to prevent negative self talk to control me when unpleasant, unexpected or the experience does not serve me or my clients happens .
    “I am ready to play the decision game.!!””This is awesome”
    1. Before I go to a networking event.1″ I am here to meet a person in my circle of influence. I may land on the “out of my control” space – that is ok because she doesn’t want to play or is not attending today…. I like playing this fun game!!..
    2. How can I learn from this unpleasant experience so I can help others to avoid this experience happening to them. I write 2-5 things I learned in order for me to help others. This game is filling up a sheet of observations each month and rewarding myself.. .
    3. ” I like this event, I like this drive, I like this meeting”. etc. By saying ‘ I like or I love” outloud sentences, I train my brain from going into the flight or fight mode. Say “I like______ throughout the day… {it may be simple as I like the spoon, I like the door it doesn’t matter}. This also keeps the good and happy hormones ignited all day long and you will attract like individuals .

  8. It is a lot like the muscle memory I talk about in my book – Get ER Done: The Green Beret Guide to Productivity. To develop muscle memory you break an action into small parts e.g. to serve a tennis ball you have to move the racket back, toss the ball, hit the ball and follow through. You want to perfect each one of those steps until you master it, slowly gaining speed, Then you want to add the next step. Each time you don’t perform it right (or make a mistake) you want to slow back down and repeat until you hit mastery again.

    Making mistakes in life is a lot like this. It’s going to happen if you want to get better. Just slow down, make adjustments and move on again.

  9. I think I make mistakes with every step I take. I’m not 100% perfect. I know that I’m not so neat and I lose focus from time to time. But I try to reposition myself again and become more strategical with my blogging and audience building. For me it’s like juggling. I just have to keep the balls going up an down and when I drop one I pick it up and try harder.

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