Mistakes: Just Use The “NEXT” Approach

No matter how hard you try, you will make some mistakes in life.  That’s a given. 

When you make a mistake, there are three things you can do. You can resolve to never make another mistake, which is fine, but impractical.  Or you can refuse to take any more risks that might not work out, which is foolish.  Or you can make up your mind to learn from your mistakes so you’ll be more successful “next” time. 

Of course I advocate the third choice.  True leaders and truly successful people don’t give up when times get tough.  When a day has gone badly or a piece of work has fallen apart, they focus on a four-letter word. 

What is it?  Brace yourself.  You may be surprised to see me use this four-letter word, but it’s “NEXT.” When a project fails or a mistake happens, successful people just say “next.” They take a moment to learn from the mistake and then focus on the “next” project. By doing so, these people are looking at the future instead of dwelling on the past. 

You see, the only time a person really fails is if he makes a mistake and does not learn from it.  Handled appropriately, a mistake is merely feedback. You’re just learning a way not to do something. 

So take the same approach a doctor would take.  Suppose you were a doctor and stuck your head into the waiting room.  You called a sick patient into your examination room, but a few minutes later, the patient dies.  What would the doctor do?  He doesn’t quit. He doesn’t take the rest of the day off because it’s not going very well. He just opens the door to the waiting room and says “NEXT.”

When you make a mistake this week, and most of us make several every week, stop for a moment to think of the learning imbedded in your mistake.  Then go on to your “next” project, looking for a place you can use your new learning.

Key Thought:  A turn in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.