How To Make The Most Of Our Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes; that is a given.

But not everyone knows how to make the most out of them.

Often people are quick to blame others and make excuses, and when that happens, nothing really changes.

What differentiates true leaders from blamers is the willingness to acknowledge they have made a mistake and to say they’re sorry (and mean it!).

The best leaders know that it’s possible to turn a mistake into a valuable moment of leadership.

Here is how to make the most of our mistakes:

Mistakes are a given. Don’t hide behind the truth, but be transparent and candid and own your error. Mistakes happen; we are human, and accountability makes us honorable.

Mistakes account for character. Be the leader who leads by example; demonstrate to those who follow you that when you mess up you will acknowledge it. Be a role model that others are proud to emulate.

Mistakes have lots to teach us. Demonstrate that you have learned a lesson from the mistake you have made and you will pay the price of a lesson well learned. The best kind of mistake is where the costs are low but the learning is high, and the best leaders know how to translate the liability of an error into an asset.

Mistakes can be fixed if broken. When possible, fix the mistake immediately, and do everything possible to reduce the chance that it will be repeated. Poor decisions and flawed processes can sometimes lead to mistakes, but bad outcomes can often be fixed or at least mitigated.

Mistakes can be laced with an apologize. When you say you are sorry, mean what you say. An apology has to be heartfelt and have substance beyond your words. When you speak from the heart you regain trust.

Everyone we know makes mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes can take away our confidence to lead.

If we know that our mistakes play a critical role in leadership development, we might just take the time to make the most of them.

The most effective thing we can do is convert our mistakes into a valuable moment of leadership.

Lead From Within: Leaders must take responsibility for their mistakes, accept ownership, set a positive example, and work toward positive solutions. Many times, colleagues and stakeholders just want to hear, “I was wrong, I acknowledge it, and I apologize.”




N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Rehan Uddin

    09. Sep, 2014

    Profusely thanks for realistic post.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Fred Aubin

    09. Sep, 2014

    Great post.

    Genuine leaders are not afraid of making mistakes …..
    ….but they should be terrified of making same mistake twice.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      09. Sep, 2014

      Great point Fred.

      Making a mistake and not learning from it is just us repeating patterns of guaranteed failure.

      Thanks so much for your comment appreciate your thoughts.


      Reply to this comment
  3. Fred Aubin

    09. Sep, 2014

    Great post.

    Genuine leaders are not afraid of making mistakes …..
    ….but they should be terrified of making the same mistake twice.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jose Maria

    09. Sep, 2014

    Everybody learns of their mistakes but not everyone recognize when they are responsable of them. Nice post

    Reply to this comment
  5. Garren Fagaragan

    09. Sep, 2014


    As with all of your posts…I get 1-2 points
    that jump out at me.In this post…it is…

    It’s honorable to be accountable. Yes!

    In my view…being true to oneself…
    being true to one’s own evolution is the
    real game to be played.

    Thank you for another great post.

    I appreciate the insights you continuously
    serve to this community.

    It’s wonderful.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      09. Sep, 2014

      I continuously enjoy reading your thoughts Garren. I hope all is well with you. Maybe one of these days we will see you on #leadfromwithin Your insights are always valuable.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Panteli Tritchew

    09. Sep, 2014

    I LOVE how this post ties in with last week’s post on Choices! When we make a mistake, a real mistake, one with unintended * negative * consequences, then we have made a wrong choice, we have been mistaken, we have erred.
    “Error” is derived from the Latin errorem “a wandering, straying, a going astray, from errare “to wander”, from the Sanskrit arsati “flows.”
    From the Sanskrit arsati, came the Old English ierre “angry; straying;” and in Old High German irri “angry,” suggesting anger is a “straying” from normal composure. Today, we become irri-tated.
    In days full of choices, it is inevitable that we will make mistakes, go astray, or be in error. The bigger mistake, the bigger error is to get angry and to blame others for choices that we make. That is when we are most mistaken, most in error, and most astray.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Bob Vanourek

    09. Sep, 2014

    Another wining post, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  8. LaRae Quy

    09. Sep, 2014

    Love this positive spin on making mistakes, Lolly.

    I totally agree: mistakes can teach us so much…but often we look at mistakes as a negative experiences only—so much emphasis is put on perfection that it scews our thinking.

    Remember as a child? We didn’t make mistakes then…we tried new things. And it was fun!

    We need to reclaim some of our creativity, play, and the fun of trying new things when the first thing doesn’t work out….

    Reply to this comment
  9. clash of Clans gem Hack

    10. Sep, 2014

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff
    previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here,
    certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it.
    You make it entertaining and you still care
    for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you.
    This is actually a wonderful site.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Rick

    11. Sep, 2014

    So-called mistakes, set backs, and obstacles, are mere experiments, opportunities and stepping stones on our journey of becoming the best we can be. Great article Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Tina

    12. Sep, 2014

    Just signed up to receive these emails within the last month. Have to say that this particular article hit very close to home as I was experiencing a bit of self doubt after identifying 2 gaps I had this week! I am proud to say with both issues I immediatly identified my part in the mistake – seemed like a much better decision than trying to hide behind the possibility that my involvement would be overlooked. Spoke volumes to MY leadership that I wasn’t attempting to place blame, point fingers or deny. Goes a very long way indeed!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Ajay Kumar Gupta

    13. Sep, 2014

    Dear Lolly,

    I appreciate your insight. Those who do not accept their weaknesses, blame others. They shift their responsibility to others. By doing this, they feel safe and secure. Such practices get ignited when people around become more conscious about their image. When such blame is also viewed seriously, people become conscious. They start avoiding taking risks. They also tend to become less creative.
    Yes, I agree with you that owning mistakes make one honorable. This comes from personal values. When we ingrain values, we invite authenticity. Personal authenticity plays significant role in influencing our behavior.

    Reply to this comment
    • Suha

      02. Jan, 2015

      “Personal authenticity plays significant role in influencing our behavior”….
      Totally agree…

      Reply to this comment
  13. sunil jogdeo

    14. Sep, 2014

    Lolly, you work on micro observations of leadership issues and you have a great style to present these observation. very impressive.

    There is a saying `mistakes are made by all, only FOOLS repeat them`. there is definitely great scope of learning from mistakes.

    thank you so much.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Krista

    29. Sep, 2014

    Great post, especially for perfectionist. Sometimes, we should focus more on learning.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Muange Emmanuel

    03. Aug, 2015

    Dear Lolly
    Mistakes change us to be great people.By constantly acknowledging them we mould ourselves by learning and being wiser every passing day.Apologizing to mistakes done by you and taking blames from stubborn people who never want to be apologetic changes us to be better people.Lets stop blame games,lets stay true to ourselves,lets not waste time.Thank you
    From Muange Emmanuel

    Reply to this comment
  16. Michal Petras

    08. Aug, 2015

    An excellent article. Very useful. It helps people to change their perceptions on the mistakes and failures.

    Reply to this comment

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