I work with a lot of business owners, battling their way through their day to day work, doing their best to build their business to make ends meet. A common issue that I come across, and one that makes me feel particularly sad, is just how much they beat themselves up for making mistakes.

I heard a phrase in Japan a little while back, where a very successful restaurant entrepreneur was explaining his fifty year philosophy towards mistakes, his or those of his staff. He said "I consider every mistake we make to be an asset". He went on to explain that they don't look to blame, they look to see how to get value out of the mistake and realize the full potential of this "asset".

I really like this philosophy, and I know we all talk about the need to make mistakes to grow, learning from failing and so on. But no one had ever explained their philosophy to making mistakes so succinctly and so powerfully.

In my own business world I've made plenty of mistakes, some of them have cost me a serious amount of money, most have caused a lot of grief and some have resulted in me losing friendships that I thought could withstand just about anything. However, I've certainly learned a great deal from each and every blunder I've made.

I also look at them from a different perspective. If I make a mistake today that costs me $10,000, I believe that somewhere down the line, this mistake will save me $100,000. So that's a great investment whichever way you look at it. Which I guess really does mean that every mistake is an asset.

Please don't beat yourself up for getting things wrong in your business. Find a better way to cope and rationalize what has happened. I've never met a business owner who hasn't got a long list of things they got wrong, but the difference is that those who beat themselves up over their mistakes seem a little broken and fragile. Those who think of their mistakes as part of the experience and a valuable learning lesson, still have that spring in their step that is needed to build a successful business. You get to choose which you want to be.

Published on: Feb 9, 2017