I made a big mistake last week on a project for a client.

Maybe in the big scheme of things, it wasn’t that big, but it was big to me. And I immediately started in on myself.  I bet you do this to yourself, too, so I wanted to share a bit.

Here’s some of what was going on inside my head:  “I should have paid more attention to the details.  I should have double-checked the list.  I should have……”  You see what’s happening here?  Lots of ‘shoulds.’

After I let the ‘shoulds’ run their course, then I dug into the truth.

The truth is I made a mistake.

I took responsibility for it (contacted the client to let them know), I apologized, and did what I could do to make it right.

There was no need for me to beat myself up over what I could have done differently.  My best option was to learn from the experience and move on.  ‘Should’ doesn’t help me.  It only keeps me in a negative place of being wrong.

I share this because I know lots of other people ‘should’ on themselves.

Instead, do what I did:

  • Acknowledge the truth
  • Take responsibility for your mistake
  • Apologize
  • Make it right
  • Learn from the experience
  • Move forward

Otherwise, you can get stuck in the fundraising mistakes of the past pretty easily.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please leave a comment and let me know how you handle mistakes.

  1. Sandy, great advice, as always. I can view some mistakes as part of the expected. So give yourselft permission to make a mistake as long as your are working hard to move foward, have the flexibilitly to course correct as you go.Those “shoulds” can also keep up from moving foward.

  2. Sandy, this is wonderful advice and a great reminder that we all make mistakes, but it is the way you handle it that people remember you by. I love how you dealt with your mistake, and the bravery it took to admit it to the world. Thanks for being so open and generous with your wisdom.

  3. Sandy, a few years ago, I did a dialogue facilitation for a local manufacturer. It was my understanding that these participants had long tenure at this facility. At the end of the session, I found out that many of them did not know each other very well at all. I mentally launched into the ‘shoulds.’ 3 years later, just last week, I had lunch with the HR Leader who brought me in for that work. He told me that what I did that day is still having its positive impact. Who would have thought? I would have never guessed this outcome upon listening to my shoulds.

    I’ve also learned that my ‘ought’ is much more important than my ‘shoulds.’

  4. Great post, Sandy. You remind us of what so many of us entrepreneurs struggle with–beating ourselves up when we make a mistake. I’ve found it more helpful to focus on striving for excellence INSTEAD OF perfection. I’ve sure had my share of “oops”; the key is learning from iit, doing what you can to rectify the mistake, and moving on.

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