We've all made mistakes that have haunted us. If the misstep wasn't bad enough, the subsequent feelings of self-doubt cause us to second-guess ourselves from that point on and stymies our progress. We chastise and criticize ourselves until our confidence is completely shot. This bad habit of self-deprecating self-sabotages our businesses and careers.
I've been there.
I used to play football, and for 90 percent of my career, I was a quarterback. In other words, I had ample opportunities to screw something up. Still, to this day, there are certain plays I wish I could have back. Mistakes that if avoided, could have altered the trajectory of a few games. Maybe even a season.
As the level of play increased and the stakes got higher, you had to have a short memory. If you messed something up, you had to be able to hit reset, put the past behind you, and focus on executing the next play. If not, the fear of making another mistake could be paralyzing -- and hesitating would throw off your whole game. You could spiral out of control real fast.
The same thing happens in our professional lives. We make one mistake, lose a handle on things, and dig ourselves into deeper (mental) holes that limit our growth. To achieve your full potential, you'll have to learn how to get over mistakes quickly.
In a LinkedIn article, women's leadership expert Sally Helgesen and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Marshall Goldsmith discuss the tendency we all have to self-deprecate. They offer a simple, two-word solution: "Oh well."
They explain, "As in: Oh well, I messed up. Oh well, I'm not perfect. Oh well, someone misinterpreted what I meant to say."
I know, it sounds too easy.
However, they found that this simple two-word phrase helps people come to terms with the fact that we're all human and are going to make mistakes. "Oh well" says, it's a learning process. What happened is in the past and I won't let it define me. I'm moving on and redirecting my attention to what I can control.
It's easy to get so caught up thinking about what you should have done, that you forget about what you can still do.
In the words of the 19th century author Edward Everett Hale, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
We all make mistakes. Learn to keep them in check and quit raking yourself over the coals. Don't let regret and doubt rob you of future opportunities.
You made a mistake. Oh well, life goes on.