How to Find the Genius in Your Mistakes

Here's one simple way to turn a mistake into a building block for innovation and success.


Let’s face it. We all screw up. If you think you never make mistakes, you’re either in denial or playing life waaaay too close to the vest.

For many people, mistakes are painful. They are reminders of how they’re not good enough, proof that they don’t have what it takes, or any one of a bazillion other negative stories. And, of course, perception tends to create reality.

The funny thing is, those same mistakes have the potential to be the building blocks for insight, abilities, and even success. It all depends on how they’re used.

When we make mistakes, we can either wallow in them and let them reinforce the idea that we don’t have what it takes, or we can commit to benefitting from them through a lifelong study at Mistake University.

Attending Mistake University is all about making a conscious effort to learn from your mistakes. It’s a way to consistently harvest the fruits of your mistakes so you can apply that insight as you move forward.

One tool to find the genius in your goofs is what I call a “mistake genius journal.”

When you make a mistake, instead of ignoring it, describe what happened and then ask a series of questions. What can I learn from this? Was it all a mistake, or was there something good here too? What worked? What didn’t? What would I do differently in the future?

When you’re done, make a summary list of key learnings. You might even create a document to compile all the key learnings over time for an at-a-glance view of what you’ve learned.

The mistakes are likely to be there, regardless of what you do with them, so doesn’t it make sense to get the most out of the investment?

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker , explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.


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