If you have never made a mistake, then that suggests that you have never tried anything new. Mistakes are a simple fact of life and while many of us are highly appalled by the thought that we might make an error, learning to accept that fact and work through it is crucial if you hope to thrive.
The obvious reason for this, is that any mistake is also a learning opportunity. If you have made a mistake, then this presents you with a chance to deconstruct that error and to learn how to avoid letting it happen again in the future.
The first step to doing this is to accept that the mistake happened and to admit your responsibility. Humans tend to have an ‘internal locus of control’ (believing that our circumstances are dictated by us) right up until something goes wrong – at which point we blame others for distracting us, or we accuse the weather of being wrong. While this is good for our egos, it’s not terribly helpful when it comes to preventing future mistakes and so it is a habit to try and quash if possible.
By accepting some responsibility for the error, you will then be poised to try and identify precisely where you went wrong and what you could have done differently. This is your ‘debrief’ and the objective is to walk yourself mentally through what happened in order to try and identify the ‘failure points’ where things started to go wrong.
This might be a simple ‘process’ – for instance, it could be that you forgot to preheat the oven, or you forgot to consider the fact that you have a fan oven. But in other cases the mistake might have been more ‘general’ and related to your emotional state. For instance, a common mistake in all manner of scenarios is to rush.
From here, you can then make a note of the things that went wrong and try to remember to avoid that mistake next time.
If you find yourself continually making mistakes, then a very easy solution is to create a checklist. This checklist is something that you can then consult whenever you perform that task and that will outline every single step that you need to take, along with cautions for things to avoid.
Checklists have been demonstrated to be highly effective tools for preventing mistakes and errors. Doctors and surgeons for instance will refer to checklists even for tasks that they are highly experienced in and qualified to perform. Research shows that as soon as they cast the checklist aside – mistakes start to happen.
If you don’t want to write the checklist down though, then just store it mentally for you to retrieve as needed – but be careful to take your time each time.
Most important though is simply to take the right psychological approach to mistakes. That means you need to acknowledge them as mistakes but simultaneously avoid letting this hurt your self-esteem. Just because you made a mistake, that doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, many highly successful people would say that they only got to where they are by learning to make mistakes and then get up and keep going on anyway!