How to Make It Easy to Own Up to Your Mistakes

This article is about the personal benefits you derive from being lenient in the face of others’ mistakes.

What It Means to Own a Mistake

Owning a mistake can only follow a recognition that it first exists. Ownership of a mistake preps the mind for resolving any issue brought upon by that mistake by assuming responsibility for negative outcomes as a result.

Those who own their mistakes understand there to have been extraneous factors at play, but assume overall responsibility for the mistake manifesting itself into reality. This allows them to familiarize themselves with their mistake’s effects, and enables for clear and honest paths toward mitigation. At this junction, the mistake is stripped of its power of being an entity too difficult to tackle head-on. Ownership is therefore a vital step to alleviating any / all negative outcomes of a mistake.

The ability to own up to your mistakes is impacted by how you treat others when they make mistakes. The manner with which you treat others’ mistakes primes the way you personally consider – and recover from – mistakes of your own.

Being lenient and supportive in the face of others’ mistakes encourages them to act the same toward you. Additionally, doing so builds an internal outlook of not anticipating punishment to follow mistakes you make yourself. As such, owning shortcomings and missteps becomes easier when you are primed to not expect punishment to follow any mistake made.

Internal: Knowing Punishment Will Follow Entices One to Skirt Around Ownership

Hypocrisy is something most are inclined to steer away from. Treating others harshly for their mistakes creates a pressure to escape hypocrisy when we make the same mistake. The strict standards we set for others come back to bite us when we fail to meet those same standards. A choice needs to be made when we make the same mistake we punished others harshly for making prior. The choice is between hypocritically easing on our own punishment, or punishing ourselves just as we would punish someone else for the same mistake.

The harsher the standard we set on others, the more difficult it is to refrain from being hypocritical. Evidently, you present yourself with two bad options in such a case and often a third option is sought.

If one were to disown their mistake, they’d perceive themselves to not have made it – thereby escaping this dichotomy. They wouldn’t be a hypocrite as they wouldn’t admit to having made a mistake in the first place, and not perceive themselves to deserve punishment.

The harsher we treat others for their mistakes, the more inclined we are to escape this decision of punishment vs. hypocrisy by simply disowning a mistake. Birthing a sort of psychological fallacy in an effort to escape both sides of the same painful coin, we would be inclined to disown our mistake and pretend it never happened.

External: Those Whose Mistakes You Punish Will Eagerly Wait for Yours

The disciplinary role comes with pressure from those you oversee. As with any student looking to surpass their teacher in knowledge and skill, punishing others for their mistakes will encourage them to catch you slipping too. The disciplinarian whose watchful eye we’re under encourages our opportunistic desire to see them punished for mistakes they punish us for making.

The presence of this desire in those you punish for their mistakes isn’t inherently an issue – it is human nature. The risk is your reaction to such a desire in those you control and oversee. By being too harsh and punishing in your reactions to others’ mistakes, you will know to expect their similar reaction to mistakes of your own.

This expectation of others trying to get you back will encourage you to minimize your own mistakes, shy away from taking responsibility, and prevent legitimate growth in an effort to retain an air of authority.

Being punished is a devaluing ordeal. It weakens the air of supremacy, and the punished assume a submissive attitude for the duration of the punishment. These traits around being punished don’t jive well with being in an authority position. In an effort to prevent the loss of legitimacy of your position of power and control, you will be enticed to maintain it through dishonest self-evaluation around mistakes you make.

Your Position of Power Is Insured by Your Lenience

A leader who is forgiving in the face of their followers’ blunders encourages a sense of comfort to build within them. Akin to returning home after a trip to unfamiliar places, a sensible and forgiving leader provides a sense of ease and coziness for their subordinates to call home base. As those you manage feel the cold and unforgiving competitive context around them, your forgiving presence and sense of comfort will draw them to you.

A sense of comfort is difficult to find in business and workplace environments. A leader who successfully builds such an environment for their team to feel safe within will only help their chances of a long tenure at the helm. Such a leader will not feel pressure to disown their own mistakes and will not feel their subordinates breathing down their neck to witness their submission to a mistake. The context of recovering from mistakes changes for the better for all parties involved – especially for those at the helm – when leaders aren’t ruling with an iron fist.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.