Saturday, July 5, 2008

Learn, Not "Burn" From Your Mistakes

We all have made bad business decisions. Some of them were quite dumb, others were just bad instincts. Maybe you lost money, wasted time, or even both. Despite this, you must recognize that making business mistakes is a natural part of building your career as an entrepreneur.

Here's the key: When you do make a business mistake, learn from it. Start by fully accepting the blame and responsibility, and not putting it on others. There are very few cases when you can place the blame on someone else other than yourself, and this is very easy to determine.

All you have to do is ask yourself: "Was there something I could have done to prevent this?" If the answer is yes, then it was your fault. If the answer is no (which it rarely is), then it wasn't your fault.

The point is that the minute you accept full responsibility, that's the same moment that you actually learn something valuable from your mistakes. As a mature adult, your brain is automatically trained to not make the same unwise decisions over and over again. However, your brain is waiting for you to admit that it was you who actually made the mistake.

Some people, however, end up "burning" from their mistakes. Instead of admitting that they were at fault, they blame other people or factors. They say things like "he screwed me over", instead of "maybe I should have looked closer at the contract." They say things like "he stole my idea", instead of "I should have better protected my idea through patents and trademarks." Or even "he didn't do what he said he would do", instead of "I should have gotten that in writing."

They "burn" from their mistakes because in the future when they face a similar scenario, they will make the same mistake again...and again and again. Why? Because their brain is telling them that last time it wasn't their fault, so there's no reason to proceed cautiously this time.

Please believe that the only way to grow in business is to learn, not "burn" from your errors. We all make bad decisions, but how we respond thereafter determines how successful you will be.

1 comment:

  1. Points very well stated, Dante. It is indeed important to learn "not burn" from your mistakes. At the same time I think it is important to create an opportunity that others might learn from your mistakes and not unwittingly burn in the fiery furnace themselves. I'm hopefully doing this myself with my blog:

    Sincerely, Paula.