Five Good Reasons To Own Your Mistakes

BlogHer Original Post

Journalist Rachel Sklar recently fessed up to a mistake on her part. I admire her public apology greatly. Not only did she admit the mistake that critics called her out on but she owned responsibility for the mistake, didn't attempt to blame others and promised to not only to make an effort to fix this mistake but to also do better in the future. And because she was so transparent in her confession and apology I am willing to take a chance on her again.

Her mistake was in overlooking diversity in a list she made when she would vociferously decry such an omission by others. I have seen quite a few of these type of homogeneous lists and rather than admit their error, instead the list makers often become defensive and offer excuses and make no attempts to work harder to create a stronger, more credible list.

It’s an omission we are fixing even as I type this, but that’s not the point: the point is taking responsibility for it and holding it up as yet another reminder of how easily groups are marginalized in our media. Even by people who loudly complain about being marginalized.

I am one of those people – and this mistake is my fault.... Except that it was my job to notice – and as someone who always keeps an eagle eye for women on lists such as these, I take responsibility for not expanding that eye further.

If this were a list of just men I’d hit the roof, Twitter madly and blog angrily. So I not only understand why black listservs and blogs are blowing it up, I applaud it. I would too, and that’s part of the goal in writing this post. Things won’t change unless examples like this are held up as things that matter.

Rachel Sklar at Mediaite: A Glaring Omission

Sklar's post serves as a reminder that there are many good reasons why we should own up to our mistakes. Here are five of my favorites:

1. Get a job or a promotion

Owning up to your mistakes is good business 101. Thinking that your failings and missteps will not be noticed or will silently be forgiven only diminishes your talent and successes. Leaders admit their mistakes quickly and then share what they've learned and how they will move forward. Most importantly they then take the actions they say they will and demonstrate their improvement.

2. Learn how to bounce back

It is also a good life skill to learn how to own your mistakes. You cannot learn from them if you are too busy trying to hide from or deny them. It is impossible to live a mistake-free life. It is also hard to learn how to stand up on our own two feet if we never risk falling down. One of the greatest benefits then from owning up to and learning from our mistakes is that we learn strength and resilience.

3. Defensiveness is not cute

To be stretched and grown by bouncing back from mistakes allows us to be taken more seriously by others as claims of perfection are pretty much unbelievable from any mere mortal. Also, attempting to shift the blame to other people is not the most honorable course of action. It makes you look weak and dishonest which are not generally admirable qualities. Realizing that we are fallible humans makes us more attractive humans.

4. Become a better student of life

When we don't try to cover-up our boo-boo's we gain valuable perspective that makes it possible to keep our eyes open for life's lessons. Plus we learn how to do what we did better the next time around. From actions ranging from tiny to tremendous there are many for which life present opportunities for a do-over.

5. Create change

Unless your ego is so thoroughly invested in your self-image as being the best at something and it won't allow you to recognize your mistakes, you will hold on to the memory of your moments of screw-up. If you know you've done something badly or incorrectly and you do not make an effort to own it and correct it if possible or learn from it regardless, you're likely to ponder, ruminate or even obsess over it. That's not to say that even if you admit your mistake and work on remedying it that you won't turn it over in your mind for a while but I think it is unlikely you can truly move past it without burying the memories deep. The freedom that comes from taking responsibility is, I believe, a crucial key to growth, happiness and the ability to move forward.

Admitting a mistake and dealing with the consequences can be embarrassing and possibly painful. You might (rightly in some cases) be concerned about possible repercussions. And your desire to come clean can potentially hurt people you care about, making the decision to confess your sins not always clearly the best choice. But I think in many, if not most, instances you'll be glad you did and those around you will appreciate your decision to do so.

Do you admit your mistakes? Do you ultimately feel better if you do or do you find it better not to talk about them and to just move forward and try better in the future? How do you feel when someone confesses to you that they screwed up?

Related Reading:

BlogHer CE Kim Pearson: Diversity Still Matters in the New News Economy

Katie at Mamapundit: A parenting goal

I am working very hard on disabusing them of the idea that there is any value or honor in laying blame before owning up. I think I am actually about to declare a temporary zero tolerance policy for this, meaning, I simply don’t want to hear it. If the book is lost, YOU lost it. If the assignment is late, YOU didn’t get it done. If the alarm didn’t go off, YOU didn’t set it….you get the idea.

To me, learning to own your own stuff is one of the most fundamental and important of all life skills required to become a fully self-actualized adult human. I struggle with it all the time, but at least I am aware of the struggle. That’s a good first step.

Ronnie Ann at Work Coach Cafe: How a Screw-Up Can Be More Valuable Than a Raise

When I graduated from grad school, I interviewed with several major financial institutions. A senior vice president at Citibank asked me “Have you ever failed at anything?” Being young and naive, I smiled, said “no” and left it at that. In retrospect, it would have been the perfect opportunity to bring up something that went wrong and show how I persevered and triumphed. (That’s great stuff for interviews.) The SVP looked me in the eye and said with an almost fatherly tone “That’s a real shame. The most successful people I know have one thing in common: they’ve all failed at something. It makes you stronger.”

Karoli at Odd Time Signatures: Life 2.0 - Year of the Reboot

In Life 2.0, I am resolved to:

* Owning my mistakes and embracing my successes.

David Fingerman at Minnesota Reads: Jin-Ling's 2 Left Feet

Jin-Ling is far from perfect. She makes mistakes, and what I found refreshing, she blames others rather than owning up to them. That made her a much more believable character for me.

Ashley at They Call Me Squeaky Toy: Owning Up To Your Mistakes

Dr. K used me as an example in class:

So, Ashley didn’t show up for class on Monday. Ashley always shows up to class, so I was actually worried about her. She showed up at Psi Chi that night and told me, “I’m sorry, I overslept.” …I like that! She owned up to her mistake!

I was pretty sure he was going to rag on me the entire time for not showing up. It took an interesting turn: He was proud of me for simply owning up to my mistake.

wikiHow: How to Accept Blame when You Deserve It

Things do go wrong sometimes. There are times when it's accidental. There are times when it's somebody else's fault. But at the times when you know you are at fault for the problem, the mature and responsible thing to do is stand up and own up to the mistake, accept the consequences, and be part of the solution to the problem resulting from your mistake.

Cheryl at Happy Meets Crazy: Brain Dumping

I will never begin to understand why some people believe that in order to be loved they must somehow be perfect. Or at least be seen as perfect. I don't get it. Nobody is perfect! We all make mistakes. And for me, those who choose to hide behind lies, rather than admit their mistakes and fix their situation, end up just making me angry. I can't be myself around them, I can't stop myself from wondering when they will be honest; it contradicts everything I believe in.

David Peck at Business Week: Recognize and Admit Mistakes

Recognizing and admitting your mistakes strengthen your ability to lead. To err is human, and is therefore a necessary part of being an engaging, credible leader. Those who deny, gloss over, or shift blame for their mistakes simply aren’t believable among those they lead. When you admit a mistake, your vulnerability allows others to connect with you more easily. They are then more apt to feel a greater level of commitment to you, and to be inspired to raise the bar for themselves.

BlogHer member Five Mistakes That Changed my Life

Many of the people in the press are same ones I met all those years ago. Many I don’t know. No matter if they knew me before or not, they all ask the same question: "What mistakes have you made and what have you learned from them?" And this isn’t a normal "check-the-box" reporter question. This is a loaded question with heavy reference to my past, some would say my infamous past.

I never got back to myself. I became better than I was. Note that it is almost seven years since failed. Mystics might say I am entering a new seven-year cycle. I kind of think that's true because I believe there are universal laws and truths. I do know I have been on a journey. I have
taken stock of the five big mistakes I have made in my life and fought my way through. I’m sure I’ll make some more big mistakes in the future, but hopefully I won’t make the same ones again.

BlogHer CE Maria Niles admits her mistakes at PopConsumer.

BlogHer Contributing Editor PopConsumer Beyond Help


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