In life, we have to accept that at some times we are going to make mistakes. Incorrect assessment of a situation, bad decisions, and operating off of faulty assumptions are all different causes, but all lead to the same result: making an error. When it comes down to it, we all need to own up to what we’ve done wrong and move forward, vowing to never make the same mistake twice.
My name is Adam Winston James, and my purposes for writing this article are two-fold:
- To show everyone that it is possible to recover from a mistake, no matter how large. and,
- To outline the steps I took to recover from a huge mistake I made, in order to turn that mistake into a victory.
In this article, I don’t intend to outline the specifics of my mistake, but rather the steps I’ve implemented in order to recover.
To speak generally, I recently made a very large mistake in my company that could potentially impact me for the rest of my life. I hurt many people. I lost tons of money for a company. I regret it all terribly.
However, my regrets and apologies only went so far. Taking my own advice to heart, I decided to get to work on making things right. After acknowledging my culpability, I sat down and wrote a letter formally accepting responsibility for my actions. In this letter, I asked the company exactly what the financial impact of my error was.
Once I received correspondence that outlined exactly how much my mistake cost the company, I then worked with the company to develop a payment plan in which I would pay back the money as quickly as I could. I ensured that I could make payments at defined dates in order to fully reimburse the company for the lost income due to my mistake.
Last but not least, I outlined a detailed plan for how I would never commit a mistake such as this again. This plan is useful for my employers, coworkers, and clients; but perhaps even more useful for me to keep in mind. I can reference this plan any time I feel that I might make an error in judgment. Taking my time and thinking through my actions and decisions will go a long way in my future, uttered Adam Winston James.
To my surprise, the company seemed to respect my actions. They were appreciative of me not making excuses or passing the blame, but rather taking full responsibility. While they were, of course, still very upset with me, they recognized a man who wanted to do everything he could to make things right.
Steps to Recover after Making a Mistake
While there is no cookie-cutter approach to recover after a mistake, there are some general rules that can serve as a template which anyone can use to make his or her own recovery a reality. In my own situation, I outlined the following 4 steps that helped me to navigate the difficult road to recovery after my error.
- Accept Responsibility. First and foremost, you need to identify when you have made a mistake. Making excuses and trying to blame others will do nothing to help the situation. When something goes wrong, you need to own up to it, and figure out what to do to make it right.
- Actively Seek Out Those Who Were Impacted by the Mistake. Even small mistakes can have a big impact. Calling, requesting meetings with, or sending correspondence to all those who have been affected by the mistake is the responsible thing to do. This gives you an idea of what went wrong, in order to correct it. Depending on the magnitude of the mistake, it may also be appropriate to set up a way in which individuals can contact you to air their grievances, as needed. This way, individuals that suffered downstream effects of your mistake can let you know how your mistake impacted them.
- Develop a Plan to Correct the Mistake. According to Adam Winston James, after you have accepted that the mistake was your fault, and gathered information from all those you have hurt, it is now time to develop a plan. How can you make it right? These are the important questions that those who were affected by your mistake are concerned with.
- Determine How You Can Avoid Making the Same Mistake in the Future. This is arguably the most important step. In life, you are going to make mistakes. But while it’s difficult to avoid making some mistakes in the first place, there’s no reason you need to make the same mistake twice. As stated by Adam Winston James, if your goal is to never make the same mistake again, your plan should be adjusted as needed to always reach this goal. After you’ve completed steps 1-3, you need to put plenty of time into step 4. Your plan should be fluid and adjustable as each situation requires. Always keep the following in mind: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.”
As I stated earlier, this error in judgment is likely to follow me for the rest of my life. But while I acknowledge this fact, I in no way feel that I am a victim. The fault was mine and mine alone.
While I know that life is unpredictable and it’s impossible to account for everything, I also know that there are steps I can take to minimize the risk of making huge errors in the future.
I will move forward from this experience, always striving to act with integrity and honesty. I know that my actions have consequences, and I will keep that fact in the forefront of my mind at all times.
However, when mistakes do happen, I now have a plan in place to correct them. I will never hide behind an excuse or attempt to shift responsibility to someone else. I will always be honest