Don’t be so terrified of making mistakes

What’s your biggest work-related fear? Many people would be quick to say that it’s making a mistake at work.

The key to keeping your career moving forward is not avoiding mistakes, it’s looking at mistakes from a healthy perspective. Most employees struggle with mistakes, and, if they’re not careful, can find themselves moving from anxiety to self-doubt. The mistake-free career doesn’t exist, and accepting your mistakes and learning to see failures as steps to success gives you the gift of maturity.

460921013If you’re in the middle of mistake-induced stress, you may be losing sleep and spending a great deal of time worrying about it. Chances are you’re not seeing yourself as succeeding. But being afraid of the consequences of mistakes, while real and scary, can keep you from doing your best each day at work.

Here are some strategies to help you look at failures as more productive and less threatening so you can learn from your mistakes and put things in perspective:

  • Think about the mistake and identify what part you played and what you can do differently in the future.
  • Don’t obsess about the mistake. Step back and look at the entire event as a way to discover if this is a one-time event or a re-occurring pattern throughout your career.
  • Owning your mistakes is a big step in towards being given more responsibility in the future. Blaming other people does little for your growth and creates negative energy for your colleagues.
  • Learn from mistakes by recognizing possible cues that you might have overlooked before the mistake happened.  Identify the cues and be aware of them — like a stop sign that alerts you to pause and rethink.
  • Forgive yourself and work through the incident. If you are angry or upset, talk about it with the appropriate people. Then, move on.


Mistakes will happen, and being afraid of them can cause you to avoid healthy risks. If you look at mistakes as opportunities to grow, you will begin moving toward gaining confidence and wisdom.

What have you learned from your mistakes?

Kim Thompson