Make Mistakes – Avoid Screw Ups

Anyone who says mistakes are no big deal needs an attitude adjustment. When you celebrate the wrong mistake it’s a screw up.

The way you handle mistakes makes or breaks leadership.

do over

Positive mistakes:

The path to success is paved with mistakes. Great mistake-makers win. Lousy mistake-makers lose.

Celebrate mistakes made while reaching forward.

William Strong put it this way, “The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try anything — and it works.”

But, some mistakes are screw ups to be avoided.


Repeated mistakes may point to weakness. Deal with the weakness, forget the mistake. When you deal with the weakness, the mistake goes away. Deal with weaknesses by:

  1. Training.
  2. Reassigning.
  3. Delegating.

Telling someone to do better doesn’t strengthen weakness. It frustrates everyone.

Successful leaders address weaknesses that cause repeated mistakes.

Unacceptable mistakes:

  1. Resistance and rebellion. Intentionally ignoring policies or procedures isn’t a mistake.
  2. Neglect. The surgeon who cut off the wrong leg was negligent.
  3. Sabotage. Never celebrate mistakes that result from intentional foot dragging, for example.
  4. Repeated. “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” George Bernard Shaw

Those who love irresponsibility minimize consequences.

Bad decisions:

Some mistakes are bad decisions that call for consequences. Celebrating mistakes isn’t about ignoring consequences for bad decisions.

Never affirm bad decisions unless you want more of them.

Learn from mistakes. Bring consequences on bad decisions.

Celebrate mistakes, but punish:

  1. Crimes.
  2. Unethical decisions.
  3. Disloyalty.
  4. Lying.
  5. Backstabbing.

Stabbing someone in the back isn’t a mistake. Its evil. Stealing isn’t a mistake. Its a crime. Lying isn’t a mistake. Its unethical.

Not all mistakes are learning experiences. Don’t celebrate mistakes that shouldn’t happen in the first place.

Celebrate learning experiences; take action to prevent screw ups.

What types of mistakes are acceptable?

How are you celebrating mistakes?