Let Failure Be Your Guide



We’ve all been there. At the cross roads of an important decision, we made a choice and failed. Sometimes those decisions can cost you a good night’s sleep. Sometimes they can cost you billions-think back to 20th Century Fox giving George Lucas total merchandising rights to the Star Wars movies for just $20,000. Mistakes will happen, but the way you handle them determines how your intelligence is perceived by others.

So, with that in mind, here are a few ideas for handling mistakes with finesse and utilizing them to make better judgments in the future.

  1. Keep Your Cool – “It’s not always possible to right the wrong, but it’s almost always possible to make things worse,” says Dr. Robert Hogan. When bad news comes your way, take a second to breathe before responding. Being proactive instead of reactive allows you to reflect on what went wrong and the part you played that decision.
  2. Accept Responsibility – Hearing that you’re wrong isn’t easy. Often, our natural response is to deflect, deny, and assume that everyone else is wrong. But refusing to accept the negative feedback comes at the cost of personal and professional growth. Instead, take the time to address your mistakes and put that insight into better judgment in the future.
  3. Engage With Feedback – People who accept negative feedback tend to avoid making the same mistakes again. However, multiple studies have shown that most of us avoid asking for advice because we fear appearing incompetent. Ironically, the results of those studies show that the exact opposite happens. People tend to see you as more competent when you seek out their input.

Failure is rarely an enjoyable experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a beneficial one. Take the time to appreciate your mistakes and let them guide you to better decisions in the future.

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

To find out more about improving your judgments and making better decisions, check out our eBook, 3 Ways to Seem Smarter.