Eight crumpled balls of paper with a light bulb between them against a wooden background. It highlights how to learn from mistakes

Making mistakes is very normal, but failing to learn from them is where we miss opportunities to correct them, never repeat them, and grow as individuals.

Our firm belief that we know precisely what we are doing and why things happen to us and that we know how to handle every situation makes it extremely difficult for us to consider the possibility that we may be mistaken or, even worse, that we have already made mistakes!

Many of us are afraid to consider that we might be wrong, as it threatens our identity. In such situations, we either panic and try to fix things quickly or tend to argue, blame others, or stubbornly refuse to change our perspective. This behavior only undermines our values and leads to further problems.

This article explores the power of learning from mistakes and applying those lessons to our professional lives to advance our careers.

Self-Reflection for Recognizing Mistakes

Have you ever had one of those moments where you think, “Oops, I could have handled that better”? That’s what you do with self-reflection, and it’s the best technique for learning from mistakes.

How do you do it? It’s pretty simple:

Take a step back, look at what went down, and figure out how to do things differently next time. That’s it.

Self-reflection is not about beating yourself up over mistakes but learning from them.

Surbhi mahnot

Mistakes are not setbacks but stepping stones toward growth.

But the biggest challenge I have always heard from people is how we know that we need a self-check in the first place.

7 Triggers When You Need Self-Reflection

Like for everything, recognizing triggers is how you know there is a need for a reality check. Here is a list of seven significant triggers that definitely indicate underlying issues that need to be resolved to overcome mistakes:

  • When you face similar challenges or make the same mistakes repeatedly
  • Your feedback from peers, colleagues, or supervisors points out areas for improvement or highlighting mistakes
  • When your outcomes consistently fall short of your expectations.
  • You experience strong emotional reactions such as frustration, anger, or disappointment in response to setbacks or failures
  • A sense of discomfort or discontentment with your current situation, whether related to work or relationships
  • When you find yourself lacking motivation or feeling stuck in a rut
  • Major life events such as job change, promotion, winning milestones, etc.

Embracing a growth mindset allows us to view mistakes as valuable learning experiences rather than failures.


Owning up to your mistakes and learning from them is okay. However, depending on the severity of the mistake, forgiveness may take time. So, don’t be too harsh, and keep improving. Learn from your mistakes in good faith to become more responsible.

Engage in a process of self-reflection where you create time and space that helps you review the situation in more detail and identify the root cause for the mistakes. Think back to the discussions that took place, the actions that were taken, and the outcome that resulted from your decisions.

Reflecting on our actions can help us gain insights into our mistakes. However, to correct these mistakes, we need to identify them specifically. 

Once we know our mistakes, we can take measures to address them.

How to Learn From Mistakes?

Extracting lessons learned from self-reflection involves a thoughtful and systematic approach. 

#1. Identify Key Themes

Analyze your reflective exercises to identify trends and patterns. Look for common themes in your notes, journal entries, or feedback. You can use tools like journaling, mind mapping, or affinity diagrams to visualize and organize your observations to make things easier.

Example: Reflecting on my mistake of missing project deadlines highlighted a potential problem with my time management skills.

#2. Analyze Root Causes

It’s important to dig a little deeper into the root causes of your identified patterns to find the exact problems. Take a moment to reflect: why do certain issues or challenges appear repeatedly? Are there underlying beliefs, assumptions, or habits that might contribute to these patterns? Think about personal behaviors, external influences, and systemic issues that may play a role. 

Example: Upon closer examination of my time management struggles, I realized that taking on too many projects and underestimating task complexity caused missed deadlines.

#3. Determine Best Solutions

Extract the most important insights you’ve gained from it. What lessons have you learned that can help you make better decisions and take positive actions? Identify specific takeaways, such as areas for improvement, new knowledge gained, or alternative approaches that could have been taken. Together, you can prioritize solutions based on their potential impact, feasibility, and alignment with your goals. 

Example: Drawing from my own analysis, I improved my time management by creating a weekly schedule with dedicated time slots for specific tasks using the time-blocking technique.

Learning is great, but putting what you’ve learned into practice can be tough. This is where most people struggle.

Putting Lessons Into Practice

Unfortunately, professional settings make it difficult to invest time and energy into correcting our mistakes. People just come, blame everything, and give another quick deadline to fix everything. Rarely are people bothered to take action so as not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

In such situations, you must work on correcting mistakes individually, which requires a lot of discipline, commitment to growth, and intrinsic motivation to bring about change.

When you’re the only one facing a mistake, there are several steps you can take to bounce back stronger. You can establish ground rules, use tools, learn new skills, or develop new habits according to the lessons you learned to stop repeating the same mistake.

For example, suppose you made a mistake due to a lack of direction. In that case, you can focus on enhancing your decision-making abilities. Alternatively, suppose you realize that a mistake happened because of insufficient time. In that case, you can employ time management techniques to keep track of time.

When mistakes occur at a larger scale, such as in a team or organization, it is essential to implement a different approach to learning from them. This requires a more collaborative solution and clear, specific feedback.

For instance, if miscommunication or confusion has led to errors, scheduling regular team meetings or using project management tools to track details more objectively may be helpful.

Document and share what you’ve learned with your team to avoid repeating mistakes. That way, everyone can benefit from your experience at the team level or organizational level.

To Conclude:

Mistakes are a natural part of life, and they actually help you grow. It’s not the mistake that matters; how you respond to it determines your path forward. So, it’s essential to see mistakes as opportunities for growth and adopt a growth mindset.

To learn from our mistakes is what counts, and applying those lessons to our daily lives helps us improve.

– Identify the warning signs that might indicate a mistake has been made or is about to be made. 
– Engage in self-reflection to determine areas where you need improvement.
– Take responsibility for any errors made.
– Identify how you can improve that will keep you from repeating the error
– Hold yourself accountable by tracking progress and adjusting as needed.
– Seek feedback from others to reinforce your learning and continue improving.

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She has work experience of almost 10 years in the IT industry in varied roles. At present, she is working full-time on this blog. She is passionate about the importance of personal growth in individual and work life, which reflects in her writing too. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work.