How to be Positive about Making a Mistake

Posted by martin.parnell |

Every day, my wife and I eat our meals sitting at the dining table and enjoying the view across the Bow River. The only exception to this ritual occurs on Saturday mornings, when I’ve been for my long run, soaked in the hot tub and had a shower, whilst my wife cooks up a wonderful full English breakfast.  Along with our mugs of tea, we put our meals on trays and head downstairs to sit by the fire and enjoy one of our favourite pastimes i.e. watching Premiership soccer, from England. 

We are both keen soccer fans and support different teams. Although we love to watch the games, which we prerecord, sometimes, it can be extremely frustrating when you see the chance of a goal wasted, especially if the team you are rooting for loses, as a consequence. Even worse is if a player is unfortunate enough, as we saw in a game last week, to score an own goal! 

However, despite their obvious disappointment, all the players can do is learn from their experience, be gracious in defeat and look forward to the next game. I’m sure there have been times when most of us have  missed that opportunity to do something amazing or made a mistake that has affected an outcome and if not, I’m sure there will come a time when that may happen. But, it’s how we deal with it that really counts. 

Firstly, it’s important to accept your error, owning up to something can be very cathartic. Secondly, instead of dwelling on your mistake, you need to see if there’s a way to put it right. This may be easier said than done, but it’s definitely worth a try. Thirdly, if there’s no way to make things right, you will just have to accept the situation and move on. 

Also, it’s important to learn from your mistake. How would you do things differently? If there is a lesson learned from the mistake, why not share it with others? Not only will it help them from making the same error, but it will let them see that to be at fault isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen. 

Of course, if the mistake affects a client, it’s even more important to be up front about it and to show that you are making every possible effort to rectify things.

If you are a leader it is especially important to be upfront about any errors you have made. It shows that it can happen to anyone and can be a chance to discuss ways to fix things and might be a way of allowing employees to help you come up with solutions. 

If, however you have an employee who continually makes the same mistakes, it needs intervention, perhaps additional training and some mentoring. Looking on the bright side, sometimes, a mistake made can lead to some creative thinking, when it comes to fixing the problem. It could even lead to a better way of doing things. Whatever happens, fortunately, it’s not often that a mistake is so devastating that it can’t be rectified and a solution found. Especially if you share the problem and look for support. 

My team may have lost last Saturday, but I’m sure they’ll look at the reruns, identify where they could have done better, rectify their mistakes, bounce back and score that winning goal, in the near future.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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