One thing a lot of us have a fear about, is making a mistake. But it’s OK to make a mistake! We’re only human. At some stage we are going to slip up, neglect something or do something incorrectly or wrong. And you know want? At the time, it’s probably going to feel like a huge, in your face, business-busting error. But in hindsight – it probably wasn’t as bad as you thought!

The thing with mistakes is this – you can let them hold you back, or you can learn from them and move forward.

Here’s how you can deal with mistakes, when they do crop up.

Be honest

Regardless of whether the mistake was a personal or business-related one, you need to be honest – both with yourself and anyone else involved. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions and being honest, even if it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing for you. So, own up, as soon as you realise you’ve made a mistake, and then set about making it right.

Make it right

Establish what you need to do, to rectify your mistake. If that means working extra hours to redo a task, commit to making that happen. If you need to apologise to someone, do it. When your mistake has impacted on someone else personally or their business, let them know what it is that you’re going to do, to make it right – and by when they can expect it to be rectified.

Mistakes give us a prime opportunity to practice our problem-solving skills. They also teach us how to be proactive, to find a solution quickly and efficiently. Our desire to make it right will drive us to think outside the box and find a solution to rectify the mistake we’ve made.

Its OK to make a mistakeMinimise the impact

Making it right will, in part, minimise the impact. But this is also about minimising how it impacts on you. We all have the ability to use a mistake as a reason for not moving forward. The fear of repeating a mistake can cause us to avoid being in a similar situation, staying stuck and unable to move past it.

There’s also the problem of letting the mistake snowball into something bigger – in our mind. We use globalisations to tell ourselves how big the mistake is, reminding ourselves of how bad it was, it’s the end of our business, our reputation, or was so big, we’re never going to recover. Stop! Minimise the impact it’s having on you by reminding yourself that you’re only human and we’ve all made mistakes. You’ve done what you can to make it right – now you need to move forward.

Learn the lesson

A mistake is giving you a chance to learn a lesson. If you learn from your mistakes, you move forward. Don’t learn from your mistakes – and you’re likely to repeat them, until you’ve learnt that lesson.

We have an opportunity to use this mistake to adapt and change. Whether it’s our policies, our working habits, our outlook or ourselves, it’s our choice. What can you implement, to avoid making the same mistake again? Proactively look for ways to fix whatever it was that caused the mistake to happen.

Deal with the practical aspects of any mistake

When you make a mistake that affects your client, one question that VAs often ask is ‘Do I still charge my client?’ And the answer will be – it depends.

It depends on several things. For example, what impact has the mistake had on your client? Is the client happy for you to rectify the mistake, at no additional charge? Does the mistake wipe out all the work you’ve already completed – or did you still get most of a task completed to a level that was satisfactory to your client’s requirements? Are they going to make a claim against your insurance, for the mistake and/or the impact it’s had on their business? Finally, what do you feel would be fair to your client?

When it comes to charging or not charging your client, you need to look at the impact it’s had on them and their business, as well as how it affects the work you have done. You can then decide if you’re happy to refund, charge full price, offer a discount or offer to complete additional work, free of charge.

Always live in a place of integrity

Dealing with our mistakes helps us to live in integrity. Our emotions, actions and conscious choices drive us to act in a certain way. They influence how we behave, the values we live by and the decisions we make. And it’s all these things that shape our character – and how we live.

If we can continue to live in integrity, even in the face of mistakes and errors we may make, we’re staying true to ourselves and acknowledging how those choices impact on those people around us. Mistakes may put us in uncomfortable positions, of having to deal with uncomfortable feelings and emotions but, it’s where we learn how to build our character and values too.

Read the following VACT blog: “What to do when mistakes happen in your business” –

A lot of us may fear mistakes, but we are only human. Mistakes will get made – it’s up to us how we deal with them and whether we let them hold us back or propel us forward.