Let's face it, shiitake happens.

No, not mushrooms, but mistakes. While some entrepreneurs may have stronger attributes than others, none are infallible. When I meet other entrepreneurs, I am inspired by their incredibly driven and focused personalities and their ability to persevere in the face of ridiculous challenges. Unfortunately, I am more put off by their arrogance and inability to own up to mistakes.

In my book, humility and grace trump perseverance.

The problem is that entrepreneurs are all too often embarrassed by their mistakes. They focus on their successes and will largely ignore their failures altogether. They should not.  Honing up to your failures and setting out to leverage the lessons learned is endearing in our leadership culture, which is full of forgivers and providers of second chances.  Unfortunately, not dealing with your mistakes properly can be a mistake in and of itself.

Errors are inevitable, so follow these three rules to avoid making your mistake worse.

1. Identify the Mistake

Entrepreneurs often misidentify a problem or fail to identify a mistake altogether.  Understandably, some mishaps are not obvious, while others may take many months, even years, to expose themselves. The most successful entrepreneurs are great at identifying the root cause of mistakes, while less successful entrepreneurs focus on menial and insignificant causes. Be willing and open to the idea that a mistake may exist, and, if necessary, seek out assistance to find out what the real problem is.

2. Admit the Mistake

Like an intervention, the first step in overcoming a mistake is to admit that you have made one. Many entrepreneurs, however, are prideful and painfully relentless in their denial of being wrong or "out of the know," even in the face of overwhelming evidence and opinion.  It is important to understand that admitting that you have made a mistake or are wrong is not bad. Addressing and taking responsibility for a failure is an endearing quality that will make you more respectable and easier to work with.

3. Face the Mistake

An entrepreneur must understand that the "tallest tree gets the most wind."  When mistakes happen, ultimate responsibility lies where the buck stops, with the entrepreneur.  All too often, however, "pride-creep" affects an entrepreneur's ability to constructively receive feedback. Granted, sometimes feedback takes more the form of criticism and can be personal, vile and destructive. Nonetheless, a successful entrepreneur will receive it and turn it into something constructive. Get some thick skin and learn to embrace criticism.

I speak and lecture regularly about my entrepreneurial journey with Wild Creations and I find myself more often than not recanting my mistakes and the lessons learned more often than my successes. It is actually very cathartic to openly discuss the failures I have had, as doing so keeps me grounded. I have even been encouraged to commit these lessons in writing, which is why I started a book project called One Million Frogs. It is therapeutic and humbling, and I believe all entrepreneurs can learn from this exercise.

And, as for shiitake mushrooms, aside from being a great battle cry when you mess up ("ah shiitake!") remember that mushrooms, like mistakes, typically grow from refuse and in unexpected places, but can actually be very useful at times (not to mention tasty). So do not fear mistakes, but make certain you know how to handle them when they happen.


Please share with others below a mistake you have made and lessons you learned from it. Others will benefit! Cheers!