Do you own your mistakes? - Blog post by Michelle Gibbings

Everybody makes mistakes.  We are all human and making mistakes and occasionally ‘stuffing up’ is part of the human condition.

There’s no doubt a lot of learning can be derived from understanding why an error has occurred.  Consequently, there’s accepted wisdom that making mistakes is good for us.

However, this notion can create a false sense of security and a mindset that as long as the mistake generates learning then it’s OK.

Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Firstly – it usually doesn’t feel good when you make a mistake so to take the learning from the situation requires focus, reflection and action.   It’s an acquired skill.

Ruminating about the mistake doesn’t get you anywhere.  Nor does failing to take accountability for the role you may have played in the mistake.   It’s about understanding what happened and what you need to do differently next time.

Pencil and shavingsSecondly, there’s a difference between a mistake or an error because it was an experimentation and the results were uncertain, to a mistake that is caused by someone who repeats the same mistakes again and again.

That may sound harsh.  However, when we refuse to learn from our past actions the mistakes take on a different tone.

Why? Because we are failing to take accountability for what needs to change and the intent isn’t about improvement.  It’s about denial.

Mistakes are only an opportunity for learning when we are prepared to personally accept our part in the situation, take action and to change our behaviour in some way so we can mitigate the chance of it happening again.

We all have choices in life and those choices have consequences.  Consequences which can be positive or negative.  We can choose how we handle the mistakes we make.

George Bernard Shaw said: “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”

By owning the mistakes and embracing the challenge they bring you’ll not just see mistakes as an opportunity to ‘think’ about what you could do differently, you’ll actually ‘do’ things differently.

Change happens. Make it work for you.


Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.  For more information: or contact