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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

Dealing with an Epic Work Fail? Let It Go!

Dealing with an Epic Work Fail? Let It Go!
Credit: Redchanka/Shutterstock

I've made plenty of mistakes. Shocker, I know. Both during the time I ran my own business as a freelance writer and as a full-time employee, I've had my share of blunders and epic fails that I really don't care to mention. And I know I'm not the only one. If there's anything I've learned, however, it's that admitting you were wrong, dealing with the consequences and moving on are [insert your preferred expletive here] hard. That said, none of it is impossible.

Whether you are a new business owner or just entering the workforce, mistakes are bound to happen. You'll make really bad calls, forget important things, miss critical deadlines, trust the wrong people and then some. Here's how to get past these slipups with your dignity intact and the least amount of professional damage possible.

1. Forgive yourself

Warning: "Frozen" reference ahead.

Let it go... That's right. As hard as it sounds, moving on means forgiving and forgetting. But if you can't forgive business partners, colleagues, etc. just yet, what matters the most is that you forgive yourself. Have an internal dialogue, and look like a crazy person talking to yourself, if you have to. The big picture is that you just made a mistake, but you'll make plenty more along the way. Now is not the time for self-blame and loathing. Now is the time to step up. And you can't do that without taking a deep breath and being OK with yourself. [4 Common Leadership Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)]

2. Own your mistake

Take responsibility. Whether you made the wrong call, forgot about a project or deadline, trusted the wrong people or whatever other blunder or business sin you committed, what's done is done, and there's no taking it back. Be an adult, and own it (it's fun being a grown-up, right?). Accepting that you did something wrong is essential to your personal and professional growth, not to mention you'll get a lot more respect for it than blaming others or relieving yourself of any faults.

3. Don't let it run your life

When something goes wrong, it's easy for your life to turn upside down. Lick your wounds, but don't let it consume you. If you need to complain, complain. If you need to get angry, let it out. If you need to wallow or turn into a sobbing mess as you cry in a dark corner (No? Just me? OK), do it. But put an expiration date on it that's a lot shorter than a gallon of milk's. Accept that you were wrong, and do what you have to do to get it out of your system — but don't be too hard on yourself. Your business, job, relationships or whatever else is on the line is infinitely more important than this one bump in the road.

4. Talk to someone

Call your best friend, significant other, mentor, therapist, hairdresser or anyone you can talk to and confide in — preferably someone who is removed from the situation. Not only will it make you feel a heck of a lot better to vent to a third party, but an outsider's perspective could turn up some incredibly useful advice that you may not have thought of otherwise.

5. Take action

What is your next step? How can you take this colossal mistake and correct it so your personal and professional universe don't implode? If you made a bad business call, taking action could mean making some tough decisions that you're not prepared to make, or it could be as simple as making strategic changes. If you made a mistake at work, your recourse could be anything from having a serious, albeit uncomfortable, discussion with your boss or, worse for some, asking others for help. (An 80-hour workweek is also possible in either of these situations, but for your sake, let's hope there's some other way.)

6. Reflect on the situation

We've all been told the same thing while we were growing up: Learn from your mistakes. Replay the series of events that occurred before, during and after your mistake. Where, exactly, did it go wrong? What could you have done differently? Was it really all within your control? Reflect on these questions, see what lessons you can learn and apply it to the future. Just avoid getting caught up in the "what ifs" and "coulda, woulda, shouldas" — that never got anyone anywhere. Trust me.

Warning: "Scandal" reference ahead.

Remember: Everyone makes mistakes. But you didn't get to where you are today by giving up when the going got tough. You've fallen before, but you picked up the pieces and got back up on your feet. You are a gladiator. Gladiators don't have feelings. We rush into battle; we’re soldiers. We get hurt in a fight, we suck it up and we hold it down.

Too much?

The point is, being a business owner and a professional (and being a human being, really) is all about moving forward. It's about doing everything in your power to make things work the way you need them to in order to reach your goals. Although some mistakes are much worse than others, they're just challenges designed to help you grow and make better decisions in the future. Whatever your situation is, this isn't your first mistake. And if there's anything that's guaranteed — other than death and taxes — it won't be your last.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.