NEVER Waste a Good Mistake

fourth-of-july-fly-overHave you ever made a mistake? A really BIG one? Maybe you did something careless, without proper planning or attention to the depth and breadth of detail? Something that might have cost you dearly in some way like a job, time, money, health, or a relationship? Unless you were just born, you surely have.

We’ll be taking a break for the long, July 4th Holiday weekend ahead… our next session will be Thursday, July 6th: Closing The Deal I: An exploration of interview strategies, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation!

Pilot OnboardSo, the more important question is “are you better off as a result of your mistake?” As painful as mistakes can be, there is no teacher better than adversity. People do their best learning through tough times, mistakes, and failures. Prosperity is great, but not a good teacher. Those who live a privileged, sheltered, and adversity-free life miss life’s education.

In contrast, those who deal with tough bosses, demanding clients, relationship conflicts, and their own bad decisions, learn many valuable lessons.  However, adversity is only beneficial if it is properly processed.

When people make a mistake, they have three fundamental choices on how to process it. Two of the choices lead to no benefit and the other to significant benefit.  Choice #1 is to be frustrated by or dismissive of the mistake.

Choice #2 is to blame others or circumstances.

Choice #3 is to reflect on and find the learning in it.

Intellectually, people see choice #3 as the correct choice, yet regularly practice choices #1 and #2 because ‘the lesson’ is difficult to identify, and it is easier to let your emotions take over, or to shift the blame. Rather than embrace the opportunity for change, they stay in their comfort zone. They may be quick to correct others, but unable to see the need for change in themselves.

Remember, you have earned the opportunity to learn from and be better for it! Don’t waste a good mistake.

Generally speaking, we all share the same experiences in life. The key difference is that successful people grow through their experiences, particularly their adversity. They accept responsibility when things don’t go well, reflect on what happened, and make adjustments in how they think and act.

In contrast, unsuccessful people tend to dismiss their role in their misfortunes, blame others, blame circumstances, or simply ignore what happened.  Sound all too familiar?

Whether in your professional or personal life, your future success largely depends on how well you learn from your experience, especially your mistakes. Here are five easy guidelines to follow to get the most benefit from your mistakes:

  1. Acknowledge the mistake. Don’t let the good qualities of being calm, resilient, and forgiving prevent you from seeing that a mistake was made. Confront reality.
  2. Take responsibility. Don’t be quick to fault external influences. There are always contributing circumstances.
  3. Reflect on the mistake to determine root cause. Identify the specific real issue. Most mistakes are symptoms. Ask “why did this happen?” Consider the possibilities and narrow them down to the likely culprits. Then ask “why did this happen?” again. And again, as needed, until you’ve exhausted the likely root causes that deserve your attention.
  4. Interact…involve others. Seek input from others who can help you objectively think through your assessment. Share your reflections with someone you trust who can help you understand the nuances of your situation.
  5. Look forward. Forgive yourself and others. Realize that you are not perfect and its okay. Recover and move on. Embed your lessons learned into your plans, processes, and daily habits. Don’t ruminate any longer. Be glad that you now have knowledge that will help you as well as others as you go forward.

Don’t waste a good mistake. Don’t miss the opportunity from your hardships to gain the greater benefit and become extraordinary.

What IS a Good Opportunity?

Compass-seaLMany job seekers go into the “journey” of job search without really knowing their destination, their PRIMARY OBJECTIVE.  This Pilot has never heard of a ship leaving harbor without knowing their destination or mission, preferring the safety and calm of their dock in the harbor.

QUESTION:  Why, then, do these job seekers overlook Steps one and two of our 12-Step Process, heading out, doomed to a random search for a desirable destination… their next right employment?

We’ll be taking a break for the long, July 4th Holiday weekend ahead… our next session will be Thursday, July 6th: Closing The Deal I: An exploration of interview strategies, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation!

Pilot OnboardANSWER:  Job seeker’s are being human in taking the path of least resistance….Embracing the OTHER Job Market is a challenging journey, a career strategy that happens to work for job search.  Steps one and two lead a well-prepared job seeker to their OFFER CRITERIA

A GREAT resume must make a job seeker’s positioning clear… Steps one and two of our 12-Step Process drive the entire process from both sides of the table.  It is the most controllable part of your efforts and success.  If you are not absolutely clear about what you want as that NEXT STEP in your career, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.

Since you need to be concise and clear when developing your Personal Marketing collateral materials (resume, BIO, verbal communication, and your LinkedIn profile),  it’s important to figure out what you best offer in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight.

Make FIT happen!

RESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industry

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.

SELF-Assessment: Find Your CareerFIT and Focus on CAREER Objectives

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What is the intersection of your ‘value proposition’ and what your target industry, or specific Company, needs?
  • What are your most impactful areas of experience, knowledge, or skill?
  • What critical problems are you well suited to solve?

Pay Attention to the Nitty Gritty

As you begin to think about the type of career transition you want to make, what IS the next appropriate employment for you… start out by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self.

  1. Give specific attention to what you spend the most time doing, those functional details of your work that have the greatest impact on your employer’s success, and, especially, what are you uniquely providing that gives value to your role?
  2. Take notes about when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated or unenthused about your job. Write down the tasks that bring you down as well as those that get you excited.
  3. It may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick with it, patterns will start to emerge. And it’s in teasing out these patterns that’ll help you build a picture of the role that’s right for you.

Schedule  Informational “Interviews”

In addition to being introspective, it’s also important to get out there and start becoming your own best CAREER Coach, learning about satisfying next steps, the career moves you’re interested in.   And what better resource than the very people already in, or connected with, those you seek?

As an active job seeker, especially in the first few months of a job search, networking your way to one informational interview per week is essential to your campaign’s success.  This may sound like a lot, but initially quantity is more important than quality as you want to get a sense of a wide variety of roles in different industries based on the results of your introspection.


The more people you speak with, the more you’ll be exposed to fields you might wish to pursue. With that said, you don’t want the person on the receiving end to feel that way—so always make sure to come prepared and send a thank you.