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Mastery Mondays

Choices & Decisions

So You Made a Bad Call

So you made a bad call.


You thought about it, or maybe you didn't. You weighed the outcomes. You took a risk. Somehow, you ended up with exactly what you didn't want - now what?


Contrary to popular belief, making a mistake isn't the end of the world. You may have screwed up, and maybe you screwed up big, but it's not the end of the world. Here's what you do:


1. Give yourself 10 seconds to feel it. Whatever emotions are coming your way - guilt, regret, shame, embarrassment - you get 10 seconds to feel them. Soak it all in, let it hit you and hurt and then take a deep breath and decide to move on. 


2.  Figure out exactly where you went wrong. What did you miss? Was there something that tipped the results of the situation? Did you trust someone you shouldn't have, let the coin land on the wrong side, or simply make a blind choice that went badly?


3. Look for a way to fix it. What can you do to resolve your mistake? If you can, put into practice the steps to make right where you went wrong. Do everything in your power to make up for what happened, especially to other people who've been affected by it. 


4. Learn from it. Don't make the same mistake twice, and with everything in you, acknowledge and grow from where you've gone wrong in the past.


No one gets it all right all of the time. But you certainly don't have to get it all wrong. Do what you can to become better, learn from your  mistakes, and support your own growth as you strive to change the path you are on.

Recommended Book

Smart Choices

Oct 17, 2021
ISBN: 9780767908863

Interesting Fact #1

Research has shown that your brain actually needs some glucose in your system to make good decisions.


Interesting Fact #2

Mental fatigue leads to bad decisions.


Interesting Fact #3

In order to make better decisions, eliminate as many as you can. Set things up ahead of time so you're not pressed in little moments to make big calls.


Quote of the day

You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.

- Michelle Obama

Article of the day - What to Do When You’ve Made a Bad Decision

It can be painful to admit when we’ve made a bad decision. Maybe you hired the wrong person, or took a job that wasn’t a good fit, or launched a new product line that no one seems to want. It’s human nature to be optimistic and assume that success is just around the corner.

Eventually, as the ominous evidence mounts, you may start to doubt your idea. But it can feel overwhelming to admit the mistake in front of your colleagues and professional network. Here’s what to do when you’re starting to realize you’ve made a bad decision.

Recognize you need to act quickly. Humans are highly susceptible to the sunk cost fallacy, which makes it hard for us to end something into which we’ve already put time, money, or effort. That’s why many people stay in unhappy relationships (“but we’ve been together for five years already!”) or hold onto losing stocks (“I bought it at $40 a share and I’m waiting for it to come back”), even when those prospects are dim. Similarly, you may have expended a great deal of political capital advocating for a geographic expansion, so it feels right to keep fighting for it until it proves successful. But if, rationally, it’s never going to be successful, or will take decades to pay off and you need a much shorter timetable, it’s far better for your career to accept the loss now, rather than dragging it out and wasting even more resources.

Identify the remedy. Sometimes a bad decision isn’t a fatal one. You may have hired the wrong person for the job, but if she has the right attitude, she may be open to remedial training to get her skills up to par. You may have approved an expansion into Southern California that’s floundering, but perhaps you can temporarily scale back to a Los Angeles County pilot to learn more about the new market. On the other hand, some problems require drastic and decisive action. If you absolutely hate your new job after a month, you may want to resign ASAP, so the company can make an offer to a qualified runner-up they spoke with during your recruitment process. It’s essential to take a clear view of how to remedy the bad decision.

Extract the lesson. Could the problem realistically have been foreseen? Sometimes, we’re blindsided — you signed a lease just before a natural disaster struck, or company strategy changed dramatically right after you accepted a new job. But there are also plenty of bad decisions that, if we’re honest, we could have prevented. Maybe you didn’t vet the new job candidate carefully enough, and relied on your gut instead of thoroughly canvassing her past supervisors and colleagues. Perhaps you overlooked growing signs of economic trouble and pushed ahead with the new line, despite knowing that luxury brands often struggle during a recession. Or maybe you didn’t listen to your wife’s qualms about relocating, and now it’s escalated into a full-blown crisis. Making a bad decision is painful, but you can at least partially redeem it by learning from the experience. Take the time to understand where you went wrong. Were you too careless, or did you listen to unreliable sources, or were you blindly overoptimistic? Understanding your decision-making biases, and formulating a plan to overcome them, can help make you smarter next time.

Share the knowledge. It’s a lot easier to sweep bad decisions under the rug and pretend they never happened. But there’s power in taking responsibility. When Jared Kleinert launched an online course — for which he promised partners $11,000 upfront — and sold zero copies, that was a massive failure. But when he wrote about his experience publicly, dissecting the reasons behind his bad decisions and sharing those lessons with others, he changed the discourse. “The second I published it, everyone was saying how vulnerable…and transparent it was,” Kleinert said when I interviewed him. “I think it attracts respect from people.”

Unfortunately, making bad decisions is a part of life: no one has a 100% success rate. Even so, it’s challenging to admit our mistakes, in a culture that still often hides them. But when you do, and you work to remedy them quickly and honestly, it can mitigate the initial problem and earn the lasting respect of your peers.

Question of the day - What's one mistake you've made before?

Choices & Decisions

What's one mistake you've made before?