Because you will make them.
Sometimes they will be minor. Other times they may be quite the spectacle. Sometimes the consequences are mild, other times – whoa! Look out! Ouch!
ONE: Own up to the mistake promptly.
As soon as you realize it has been made, own it. Take responsibility. The worst thing you can do is deny, cover up, minimize, rationalize, blame shift, etc. That multiplies the power of the mistake. It also makes you look bad. President Truman had a plaque on his desk that said, “The buck stops here.” It’s not a bad idea for all of us to have something similar to remind us that we are responsible.
TWO: Discover why the mistake was made?
Use the occasion to learn what happened, why it happened, and what can be done so it doesn’t happen again. You either learn from mistakes or you repeat them. I recently made a medium size mistake. It was frustrating. I knew I was making it and still went ahead and made it. Afterwards, I did an immediate assessment of what went wrong and why it went wrong.
THREE: Use others in the process.
Include anyone who has some responsibility and/or authority about the mistake. If you can fix things solo, great. Often you can’t. Get help. That is not a sign of weakness. That is a sign of “smartness.”
FOUR: Apologize wherever apologies are needed.
Clear the relational air promptly. The relational tensions that arise during “mistakes” make the mistake much more difficult to deal with. Conflict about mistakes compounds the issue.
FIVE: Figure out how to fix things and get to it immediately.
The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Sometimes mistakes are just waiting to grow to monster size mistakes. The mistake (and its results) are an early warning sign of worse things to come. If you don’t do something. Get some help. Talk it over. Seek understanding. Look for solutions. Implement and hover over the implementation to make sure it works.
Are there any mistakes you are dealing with right now? Go ahead and work through these five steps and see what happens.