A True Story of How to Learn from Your Mistakes

learn from your mistakes

We all make mistakes. Some people make mistakes more frequently than others. Some mistakes are bigger than others.

Making mistakes is part of life. It’s how we learn from mistakes that is really important. As long as we learn, we shouldn’t consider a mistake a failure.
 
We fail when we don’t learn from a mistake. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” 

An Example of a Mistake

 
This past week, I made a pretty big mistake that could have had a huge impact in my professional career. At least, that is how I perceived it.
 
Every professional, in my opinion, should have a LinkedIn profile and be active on the platform. I’ve connected with people I never would have imagined through this social network. It’s not Twitter or Facebook where people post cute cat pictures or updates on what they are eating for lunch. It’s just for professionals.
 
Because I believe in the benefits of the platform so much, I try to keep my profile updated. While I’m at “All-Star” status with my profile, it still needs a lot of work. 
 
Trying to improve my LinkedIn profile, I spent a few minutes one lunch period adding IntentionalEmployee LLC as a “job.” A link to intentionalemployee has been in my profile for a long time but I had never listed the site as a part of my career portfolio.
 
When updating a profile, you have the option to turn off notifications to your connections. I remembered that, only after I had added IntentionalEmployee LLC and saved the profile. Therefore, status updates of “Congratulate Bert on the new job” went out to all of my connections. 
 
Not only were status updates sent, certain connections, depending on their LinkedIn settings, received emails with the notification.
 
Within minutes (and I’m not exaggerating), I started receiving comments, emails and text messages about my “new” job. Clients, friends, co-workers and regular connections noticed the change and were congratulating me.
 
Congratulations were overwhelming and much appreciated. 
 
The automatic notifications sent by LinkedIn increased my profile views by an outrageous amount as connections tried to figure out whether I left my day job.
 
I added to the “Congratulations” comment thread, after a client indicated he would miss working with me, that I had not left my job and had no intention of doing so. This “new” job was simply me updating my profile for my writing experience.
 

Learn from Your Mistakes

 
What did I learn from this simple mistake? Did I learn anything? Of course I did. Following are several lessons learned from my mistake.
 

I’m Not Perfect

 
Don’t worry, I know I’m not perfect. I’ve known it for a long time. As perfect as we all attempt to be and try to present an unblemished image to others, we will make mistakes. We can pretend, and even hope, to be perfect but it’s not going to happen.
 
We make mistakes. Plain and simple. Accept it now. You are going to make mistakes. Hopefully you are mature, poised and cognizant enough to limit the frequency of big mistakes. Learning from your mistakes is the key.
 

Be Alert

 
My mistake was easily preventable. Had I stayed alert as to what I was doing, I could have prevented LinkedIn from sending the notification to my 1,700 connections.
 
However, I was “in the moment” when updating my profile. I wasn’t thinking ahead like I should have done; I was simply in the flow.
 
Learn from your mistakes in the past by staying alert in the future when are doing a similar task. Going forward, I will definitely be cognizant of whether I want a notification sent to my connections. For the profile updates I don’t want them to see, I’ll deactivate notifications.
 

Plan Ahead

 
The primary issue with my LinkedIn mistake was I did not plan the changes I was going to make. I had just read an article about new features in the LinkedIn profiles and just jumped into making changes.
 
What I should have done, rather, was plan all the changes I wanted to make. Then, I could make them strategically. Because the default system setting is to send notifications for profile changes, I should have created a plan for what updates I’d make when.
 
One strategy LinkedIn power users recommend is to make intentional and frequent changes to your profile so you stay in the News Feed. The notifications will be seen by your connections and followers so making profile changes is a good idea.
 
Before I make additional changes, I’ll map out what I want my profile to look like (which unfortunately won’t all be complete prior to this article going live) and then strategically plan ahead for when I’ll make those changes.
 

Find the Positive Side of Your Mistakes

  
Since we make mistakes all the time (Oh, come on, admit it!), it’s helpful to find the positive side of each mistake we make. Not only can you learn from your mistake, you can also usually find the silver lining in the cloud hovering above you.
 
For example, in my LinkedIn gaffe, there were at least the following three positives that came from it:
 
1. Attention 
 
My blog, intentionalemployee.com, received more attention. I believe most of my LinkedIn connections know I write at least weekly. Some of them, however, don’t know it’s for my site. 
 
People say the following to me frequently:
 
“You’re on LinkedIn all the time. I read everything you post.”
 
“I read what you wrote on Facebook.”
 
“You’re always on social media.”
 
The people who tell me these things read what I write. They get it directly from their social media platform of choice – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest – instead of directly from my website. 
 
Because of my mistake, they now know about the site and that I’m not just on social media. 
 
And, as an aside, I’m not on social media that frequently. I use scheduling tools to automate the updates on these platforms.
 
2. Communication
 
Some of the people who congratulated me on my “new” job, were connections, friends or clients with whom I hadn’t communicated in some time. This provided me with the opportunity to talk with them.
 
Too often, we take our friends, co-workers, clients and even acquaintances for granted. We should be more intentional about showing them we care by communicating with them more often.
 
3. LinkedIn Views Increased
 
If you don’t use LinkedIn to find business (I do), spread a message (I do) or get updates from relevant and interesting people (I do), then you won’t care much about this positive. Since I do all three, increasing the views to my LinkedIn profile matters.
 
While I’m definitely no expert as to LinkedIn’s algorithm, an increase in my profile views increases overall presence on the platform. The more my profile is found, the more it will be found. It will exponentially increase as it is found more and more.
 
It’s not an ego thing for me whatsoever. It’s actually part of my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to have a positive influence on everyone with whom I come into contact. Social media is one way people come into contact with me.
 
The more I’m found on LinkedIn, the more I can spread the message of positivity and help professionals enjoy their careers. I think that’s a definite silver lining.
 
Learn from mistakes  

Do You Learn From Your Mistakes?

 
What was the last big mistake you made? It shouldn’t take long to think of it. If it was big enough, it’s probably still fresh in your mind.
 
What did you learn from your mistake? Did you even learn anything or are you destined to repeat it?
 
I’m amazed by people who continue to repeat their mistakes. 
 
An accountant who doesn’t learn from one engagement to the next, and continues to repeat the same mistakes, will likely not be in public accounting for long.
 
A bank teller whose drawer is repeatedly short on cash at the end of his shifts is likely not going to continue being a bank teller. 
 
We understand learning from mistakes in our jobs and careers. It’s our personal and private lives where typically overlook the importance. 
 
Mistakes in relationships are probably the most obvious to recognize but hardest to change. In many cases, we have to take emotions out of the equation and look inside ourselves. It’s only then will we see the root causes of our continuous mistakes.
 
Neglect to change the oil in your car for too long and your engine will blow up. That’s a costly mistake, and if that happens, you’ll likely never forget to change your oil again.
 
Do you learn from your mistakes? Answer that with total conviction. Do you learn everything you can or just one lesson? As I did above, try to find at least three lessons for every mistake you make. 
 

One Last Lesson to Learn from Your Mistakes

 
We all make mistakes. I know I sound like a broken record. I don’t apologize for that. We need to recognize this fact of life. 
 
You can get so caught up in your mistakes that you make yourself miserable. You make a mistake, you learn, you move on. 
 
Do not let making a mistake get you down. That’s the final lesson I hope you take away from reading this. Do not let mistakes make you believe you are less of a person, not as good as you are. 
 
You are an awesome person. You have a purpose in this world. You have the power to influence others to help make the world a better place. 
 
Learn from your mistakes. Help others learn from their mistakes. 
 
Question for you:  What other lesson should I have learned from my LinkedIn mistake? I’m sure I overlooked something. Will you please email me here and let me know? Help me learn!
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