As a service director in the residential care sector, I have achieved a lot over the course of my career. I have helped countless kids, learned better ways of working (and living), gained qualifications and experience I wouldn’t have elsewhere. That doesn’t mean I’ve never taken a misstep. You certainly won’t find “got fired at 16 from the local working men’s club for dropping a stack of glasses during bingo” on my LinkedIn profile. Nor will you find reference to early-career mistakes such as mishandling the home’s budget or misreading a child’s behaviour; some of the practices commonly taught twenty years ago, when I first entered the industry, were far from the therapeutic, trauma-informed approaches that are thankfully far more commonplace nowadays. Such things can be embarrassing to look back on. But I have learned that owning up to our past mistakes can be a powerful tool for building confidence and moving forward. They gave me the confidence to try things later on that didn’t work out as planned - my training company, by copywriting, and my self-published fiction. Thanks to those endeavours I am a more skilled trainer and a better writer than I otherwise would have been, with a much deeper understanding of the importance of a clear business plan with adequate preparation when undertaking a new project.
We all make mistakes, and it's easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed when we do. However, owning up to our mistakes can be a powerful way to build confidence and move forward. When we acknowledge our mistakes, we take responsibility for our actions and show that we are willing to learn from our experiences - remember, you are not defined by the mistakes you make. This can help us build trust with others and demonstrate our integrity.
So, what should you do if you realise you’ve made an error?
Firstly, acknowledge your mistakes: The first step in owning your mistakes is to acknowledge them. This can be difficult, but it's important to be honest with yourself and others about what went wrong.
The second step is take responsibility: Once you've acknowledged your mistakes, it's important to take responsibility for them. This means accepting the consequences of your actions and doing what you can to make things right.
Once you’ve done that, you should then prepare to learn from your mistakes; this is one of the most important, productive things you can do in this situation. So take some time to reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done differently. Did you follow the right procedure? Did you follow the procedure correctly? Doe the procedure you followed need updating or adapting? Is there somebody you could have turned to for support and/or advice? A fishbone diagram analysis may be a useful exercise here. This can help you avoid making the same mistake in the future.
After you’ve reflected on how you made the mistake, use your mistakes to build resilience: Making mistakes can be tough, but when we learn from our mistakes we become better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks in the future.
Finally, consider sharing your experiences with others. By being open and honest about your mistakes, you can help others learn from your experiences and avoid making the same mistakes themselves.
Owning your past mistakes can be a powerful way to build confidence and move forward. By acknowledging your mistakes, taking responsibility, learning from your experiences, building resilience, and sharing your experiences with others, you can turn your mistakes into valuable learning opportunities. Remember, we all make mistakes (anyone claiming otherwise is, frankly, not being truthful), but it's how we handle them that matters most.
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