How To Transform Great Mistakes into Amazing Ideas





What if I told you I could teach you how to transform your next mistake into a great success? A lofty claim indeed, but that’s what I aim to do through The Successful Mistake. It isn’t my only aim, because as well how to transform your mistakes into success, I hope to redefine your entire outlook on them.

Because we all make mistakes in business and in life.

And after interviewing 150+ successful and inspiring entrepreneurs, I’ve learned those who ruffle feathers and make inroads in life, are those who appreciate the mistakes they make, understand when they’re making them, and most important of all, how to transform them into something positive.

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It isn’t simple to achieve this, but it doesn’t require a skill-set, so much as a mindset. It’s important to differentiate this, because skillets are tough to learn. They take time. They take practice. Some people have more skill in a particular area than others.

Simply put, not all skills can be taught (well).

Take me, for instance, and my lack of drawing skills. I have a few talented and artistic friends, and they’ve tried to teach me how to transform my stickmen into real-life drawings. And failed. Because I’m not very good. I don’t know why. I could learn and improve if I dedicated myself to the cause, and practiced each day… But would I ever become a master painter or artist? Debatable!

[Tweet “”Overcoming mistakes isn’t about skill, but a particular frame of mind.””]

You could apply the same to running or swimming, because I could get better at both with practice and dedication, but this wouldn’t necessarily translate into an Olympic Gold Medal.

Mindsets are different. They’re more attainable. They still require practice and time and dedication, but anyone can embrace a new mindset. It isn’t easy, but you can do it. Overcoming mistakes isn’t about skill, but a particular frame of mind.

This is what this post is about, for I’ve a few actionable tips for you, which may help you transform your next mistake into an epic success.


When you make a mistake, the first thing you wish to do is panic. I suppose it comes down to our in-built fight or flight mode, and our tendency to react without thinking things through. I’ve found this tends to make the situation infinitely worse.

It’s easy to say take a step back and a big breath, but it’s another thing to do it.

After all, if you’ve just made a mistake that has the potential to shake your world upside down, each precious second counts. But one huge aspect that separates successful people from the rest of the pack is their ability to walk away from a moment and calm their thoughts. Even if a lion breathes down their neck, they find time to take a breath of their own.

Corbett Barr and his wife escaped to Mexico for a while, even though his venture-funded business went under. The rational thing to do was take the first job he could find and pay his mortgage, but it wasn’t the right thing to do – or the smartest.

[Tweet “”No matter how big or small your next mistake is, don’t panic…””]

Desiree East and her husband moved to Bali for six months, even though they had to sell their house and start again after the fallen economy turned their business upside down.

Bleak moments I can’t fathom (losing a business, watching the economy crumble around you…), but it’s in moments like these you prove yourself. Instead of reacting to a mistake and jumping into a decision, successful people step back… think… wonder… and make the right decision.

This doesn’t always require a literal step back either, because sometimes a momentary breath and pause is more than enough. No matter how big or small your next mistake is, don’t panic. Don’t rush. Eek as much time out of the situation as possible, and ensure you make the RIGHT call.

How To Transform Great Mistakes into Amazing Ideas


I find myself guilty of this from time-to-time. In your heart, you know you’re making a mistake, or doing something that may grow and build and develop into a BIG-and-BAD issue. Maybe it’s a questionable hire. Maybe it’s the wrong client. Maybe it’s a new project you really-really want to work, but KNOW never will.

Successful people do the brave thing and face the issue head-on. In my opinion, this happens to be the hardest thing to do, too.

And don’t worry if you run away or procrastinate from the issue at hand, because many successful entrepreneurs have done so in the past. Take Chris Brogan, and how he wasted over $400,000 because he kept throwing money at his ideas and problems, rather tackle the real issue at hand.

Or Jordan Harbinger, who knew rather quickly how bad some of his first hires were, but rather than fire them, he tried to find a role they could do. That’s right, he basically asked himself, “How can I create a new role for this dude, and pay him a wage from my own pocket, and allow him to continue stagnating our growth…?”

[Tweet “”one quick way to transform a mistake into success is to stop kidding yourself.””]

I honestly feel this is something almost everyone suffers with, and it takes time to overcome. We like to think we’re proactive and brave, but there’s so much life going on around us, it’s hard to face everything head-on. Maybe Marines are capable, I don’t know…

Mere mortals like myself…? HECK NO! We’re rubbish at it.

But one quick way to transform a mistake into success is to stop kidding yourself. Stop procrastinating. Stop trying to convince yourself everything’s fine, and that if you give it another hour… another week… another month… everything will work out for the best.

It won’t. It only will when you tackle it head-on and take control of the situation. Make a decision, damn it. Be decisive. Be brave.

How To Transform Great Mistakes into Amazing Ideas


Pride and ego are not your best friend. Ever. Ever ever!

They trick you into thinking you can fix everything on your own, or that those around you may ridicule you and lose faith. For the most part, people surprise you, and it’s rare to ever transform a mistake into success on your own. It’s like asking for help, and how you hate doing it because you think it makes you weak.

It doesn’t. Not asking for help is one of the weakest things you can do, in my own humble opinion.

It’s a tainted mindset to have, so the next time you make a mistake, and think you can turn it around by yourself, and that you should keep it a secret… slap yourself across the face.

Dan Miller’s one of the most inspiring and alluring people I’ve ever met, but not long ago he lost EVERYTHING. He found success and watched it slip through his fingers. He had to start from scratch, and as I’m sure you can imagine he suffered through a great deal: guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear…

[Tweet “”Not asking for help is one of the weakest things you can do…””]

He reached out to those around him, though. He asked for help and made sure he did what was right for him, his family, and his conscience. I wasn’t surprised to learn these people offered Dan a helping hand and gave him the push he needed to start again. These days, those failures and dark hours are mere distant memories of his once-upon-a-time.

And this doesn’t only apply to earth-shattering mistakes, but every one you make. Involve your business partner, your spouse, your family, the guy behind the bar at your local watering hole… Share your fears and what went wrong on your blog, and ask people to help and advise.

When we make mistakes, we beat ourselves up and make poor decisions. We have a tendency to make matters worse, so involve others and appreciate a new perspective.

I spoke to someone recently who said how he hated it when people blame other people for the mistakes they make. I agree, but I believe blaming yourself… and beating yourself up… and driving yourself insane… is just as bad.

How To Transform Great Mistakes into Amazing Ideas


I’ve found no matter what the mistake is, and whether it rumbles on for a while or happens all at once, we slip into an instantaneous tunnel vision where all we see is that in front of our nose.

You see nothing but the mistake. You think of nothing but right now. It becomes about fixing the issue in hand, which in many ways is good. It’s part of facing the mistake head-on, after all.

But this mistake is a mere sliver of your story. The decisions you make today set you up for the decisions you make tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. It’s important to tackle the issue at hand, but you must never forget the big picture.

[Tweet “”Your next mistake is a mere sliver of your story…””]

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from interviewing 150+ successful entrepreneurs is their understanding of success. Not any old success, but what success means to them. As such, when they make decisions, and fix issues, and tackle problems, they constantly consider the bigger picture.

It isn’t about the decision you make today, but how all your decisions come together to help you get to where you want to get. Or if you’re already there, how they help you stay there.

Your next mistake is a bump in the road. It’s a flat tyre you have to fix and put right, because until you do you can’t continue your journey. But you wouldn’t allow a flat tyre to dictate your destination or the route you plan to take. You change it. You get the job done. You fix things and move forward, keeping your eye on the main prize throughout.

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Entrepreneurial life – like life itself – isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. You learn how to transform mistakes into success the hard way, because to an extent you must earn your stripes. I consider it the universe’s filter, because otherwise everyone would create their own business, and we’d live in a world of mediocrity.

It’s hard in order to determine who can and can’t survive. Mistakes and failure and hardships are placed in front of us to test us, and whittle the many into the few.

As such, above everything, you must persist.

You will make mistakes. You will fail from time-to-time. Ideas fall by the wayside. Your ego gets beaten and tested. You hurt. You stumble. You cry. It’s fine, because so long as you persist you give yourself another chance, which brings us back to the above point, and keeping your eye on the big picture.

Dave Ursillo published his first book with the sort of enthusiasm and excitement you can imagine he would, but this book never hit his expectations. He made mistakes and he failed, but above all he learned. He learned about himself and his writing, and what he does and doesn’t want to spend his life doing.

He didn’t walk away from the laptop, rather persist and got stuck in – bigger-and-badder than ever.

[Tweet “”We must all learn how to transform failure into success, and it’s hard.””]

If you ask me how to transform your next mistake into an epic success, I say reading a post like this only does so much. YES this is a mindset, and one you can choose to embrace. YES the above points help, and place you in the mind of those who’ve been there and done it.

BUT just because you read a blog post and listen to stories from successful entrepreneurs doesn’t mean you’re immune to making mistakes. It doesn’t mean you won’t fail or stumble or fall short. I actually interviewed these people, and I still make the same mistakes they did. Maybe that makes me an idiot, but I think all it proves is I’m human.

We must all learn how to transform failure into success, and it’s hard. It doesn’t just happen with a click of a fingers.

We must learn to persist and have faith in ourselves, but I do believe everyone can embrace the same mindset successful people do. Taking a step back, involving others, facing the issue at hand, considering the bigger picture at all times, and persisting helps.

A mindset, not a skill. Don’t forget that.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to reach out to me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and share your thoughts. These are mine, and I’d love to hear yours.


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