5 Steps to Recovering from a Major Failure

All of us have made a mistake.

Not a small misstep but a real “fail” that affected others, sent the work sideways and might have generated hushed chatter in the hallways. Leadership coach Wendy Nakamura says what really counts is what you do after the failure. Here are five suggestions to help you recover and restore your reputation.

1. View recovering from failure as a process.

If you move through the process deliberately with an intent to learn, it will enrich you and deepen others’ confidence in you. Although your instincts may tell you to rush through the discomfort and embarrassment, rushing may rob you of an opportunity to reflect and become better at what you do.

2. Be transparent and accountable.

Demonstrate courage and integrity by confessing your mistake and taking full ownership without placing blame elsewhere. Then you can figure out what went wrong and act to rectify the mistake and prevent it from recurring.

3. Rebuild trust, one person at a time.

Engage with your stakeholders to make amends and strengthen your relationships as you move forward. Falling on your sword can look insincere, so apologize authentically and succinctly. Then focus on the future. Ask how you can help them and be sure to deliver whatever you commit to.

4. Forgive yourself.

This may be the hardest part. You replay the mistake over in your head and beat yourself up. At some point, dwelling on your mistake serves no purpose. So accept that you are human. Do something symbolic to put the mistake behind you – recycle that botched report, journal the experience, turn to a fresh page.

5. Regain your confidence.

You don’t need to be defined by your mistake. Your history also includes many achievements. Reflect on those wins and make a list of the strengths and attributes that made you successful. Carry these forward. They will make you successful again.


This Month’s Author:
Wendy Nakamura, Consultant and Coach
Foresight Leadership Development

Categories: 5 Steps, Careers