Let’s be honest with ourselves; that old cliché about nobody being perfect is true! So, why is it so darn hard to own up to your mistakes and how do we change those ingrained behaviors to become more authentic?

Why Owning Our Errors Matters

The reason it’s so challenging to admit when you’ve gotten something wrong is that you can’t ever be 100% honest about yourself. Try as you might, you’re the center of your world, and it is impossible to be entirely subjective.

We call this a cognitive blind spot – a gap in our self-awareness that tries to protect us from negativity.

In essence, your mind is looking after you, sheltering your ego, and always attempting to rationalize why you made a mistake:

  • It wasn’t your fault.
  • You didn’t have another choice.
  • Someone or something made you do it.
  • You aren’t responsible.

Sounds familiar?

Our problem here is that owning up to your mistakes is incredibly valuable!

Refusing to acknowledge when you’ve made a bad call, not accepting responsibility for an error, or trying to shift the blame are all inevitably going to be harmful to your future relationships.

Reasons Owning Up to Mistakes Is Powerful

When you admit liability and accept that an error has happened because of you, you’ve already taken the first step to putting it right. Here are some of the plus points to owning up to the fact that – like all humans – you’re not perfect.

  1. You learn from your mistakes

Yep, another cliché – and another that is grounded in fact. If you permit yourself to experience a setback, your subconscious is already working out what it can do better next time.

Make better decisions, understand what went wrong, and establish a new system or way of working that eliminates the possibility of the same mistake happening again.

  1. Taking ownership will earn you respect

Nobody likes playing the blame game – or not anyone you’re going to want to be around for long! Putting responsibility on someone else’s shoulders is an attempt to hide our failures, but ultimately is bringing somebody else down to avoid having to accept the blame yourself.

Strong leaders can acknowledge when things didn’t go right, accept that the buck stops with them, and take decisive action to resolve whatever issues have arisen as a result.

Whether it is colleagues, friends, family members, or partners, holding your hand up to making a bad decision is far more respectable than hiding away from your responsibilities.

  1. Self-awareness is improved

Quite a lot of the time, we make a poor decision because we didn’t think properly, acted impulsively, or felt irrational about the choice we were being asked to make.

Nobody can make the right call every time. But when you do get it wrong, if you can try to take a step back, you will gain valuable insights into how your psyche works under pressure.

Perhaps:

  • Your emotions influenced your decision-making.
  • Other priorities were clouding your thinking.
  • You made a judgment call under pressure.
  • The mistake happened because you lost sight of the main objective.
  • You didn’t realize what would happen.

All of these scenarios are normal human reactions. However, once you understand why you chose badly, you’ll be in a far stronger position to own up to your mistakes in the future – and far less likely to make them in the first place.

How to Own Up to Your Mistakes and Accept Responsibility

It’s a lot easier saying you should own up to your mistakes than actually to do it. There are multiple reasons this feels so challenging:

  • You don’t want to feel judged or be poorly thought of.
  • You’re scared about the future in your job or role.
  • You think making an error makes you unreliable or untrustworthy.
  • It feels uncomfortable or embarrassing.
  • You feel upset about having made a mistake.

Again, all perfectly rational reasons to shy away from owning up to a mistake with your head held high.

What’s important to understand is that being able to take control of a problem and claiming the blame is a way of establishing a foundation for favorable resolutions in the future.

If you’re the kind of person who isn’t afraid of saying that they got it wrong, that paves the way for others to feel encouraged when faced with a problem of their own making.

Teamwork produces far more effective solutions than trying to solve a problem on your own, and sharing your mistake and asking for help is a sure-fire way of gaining recognition as someone trustworthy, a team player, and the kind of individual who places the outcome in higher importance than their own pride.

Next time you judge something wrongly, try this:

  • Accepting responsibility without waiting for someone to challenge you on it.
  • Being proactive in apologizing or seeking a way to make amends.
  • Contacting anybody affected directly so that they can speak to you first-hand.
  • Asking and listening to constructive feedback or ideas about what you can do better going forward.

The kind of person who can own up to their mistakes is the kind of person we all want to have in our lives. They are trustworthy, humble, and honest.

We can all aspire to those qualities, so next time you get it wrong, take control of the situation and own up to your mistakes. You’ll gain far more from empowering others to admit their fallibility than you ever will from hiding from your mistakes.

References:

  1. https://hbr.org
  2. https://www.entrepreneur.com
Lauren Edwards-Fowle, M.Sc., B.Sc.

Copyright © 2012-2020 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

Leave a Reply