We have all heard the call to embrace failure, fail forward, and fail faster. On an day-to-day level, failure is still hard to face, come to terms with, and respond to. In a world seduced by marketing and PR, it is also tempting to spin mistakes away using empty words, lies, and gaslighting.

I think the following are key steps to become better prepared for, and act constructively in response to mistakes.

Preparedness and Acceptance

Accept that mistakes will happen. Perfect storms do and will happen. No one is perfect.

Have our work checked, then check again. The more critical the nature of the work, the more checks are needed; no matter how much of an expert we are.

Mistakes will exact a cost. This is just how life is.

Openness to Feedback

Even someone less qualified may spot a genuine mistake.

Honour and evaluate all feedback before accepting or rejecting them.

Integrity and Responsibility

Be up-front and ready to take responsibility for mistakes.

But don’t take unreasonable or unwarranted responsibility.

Put our best foot forward in our communications, but don’t spin lies.

Don’t blame others without cause. Don’t gaslight the affected people. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Action and Commitment

Come up with possible solutions to present when we own up to the mistake.

Give people informed choices. Don’t hide implications from them, even if these were temporary until the mistake is fixed.

Ask for help from others.

Commit to implement the solution to completion. Even if this costs us.