Create opportunities from mistakes

I believe that it is possible to use mistakes you have made to your advantage. The story is fairly simple and all too familiar: you mess something up, and you are embarrassed. You are filled with a sense of dread and are lead to the belief that your mistake is irreparable.

You are now given the unique opportunity to respond to the problem in a way that not only alleviates tension, but makes you look qualified and intelligent. As Charles Swindoll says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

Your attitude is everything at this point. In this article in the Elite Daily, author Ashley Fern says, “We can choose to live the life we want, no matter how tough it can get. It is all a matter of mentality, only we will prevent ourselves from achieving greatness. The rest are just small detours before we reach our destinations.”


It might be too late for Jean-Ralphio

When I was in the Gateway series of classes at UO, I misspelled the name of one of my sources in an article I had written. Classic rookie mistake. When I realized my error, I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. My first instinct was to flee Eugene.

Instead, I chose a more practical approach. I called up my source, explained my error, apologized and acknowledged that I was new to this and quite embarrassed. I told him I would rectify the mistake immediately and make sure his name was spelled correctly in all future publications of the article. He was understanding and responded well.

Although you won’t always get off that easy, taking the initiative to speak to the people involved in the mistake you have made can leave a positive impression. Instead of the dumb newbie journalism student who doesn’t know how to spell names correctly, I am the student who called her source and handled the situation with humility and offered solutions to the problem. My reputation precedes me, so I’m going to make sure it’s a professional one.

Virginia Werner

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5 Responses to Create opportunities from mistakes

  1. I know the feeling you’re talking about, your stomach starts turning and you want to flee the situation. However, mistakes are made to be learned from. It’s not about the mistake but how you handle it. As interns we are begin at the bottom and want to prove to our bosses that we deserve to be there, so our first mistake made at a company is terrifying yet if we remain honest with a strong mentality a mistake is merely a lesson. But if we try to hide a mistake that cannot be fixed it only goes downhill from there. Although its scary, we have to remember that we are new at this and we’re all going to make mistakes.

  2. pdxsx says:

    Very, very good advice, Virginia and exceptionally mature thinking. You handled it perfectly and your advice is spot-on for future journalists.

  3. I can definitely relate to this post, on several levels. I have the horrible habit of rushing through projects and missing important details some of the time. Although I’d like to say I’ve gotten completely over this habit in the professional world, I can’t. However, I can say that I usually don’t make the same specific mistake twice and that is helping me build a better habit for slowing down. We learn from every mistake. I know my mistakes motivate me for the future and teach me the importance of very aspect of the job.

  4. pcriscola says:

    I think anyone in any profession can relate to this, and especially starting out in their field. You want to have some kind of credibility and want to be acknowledged as someone who knows what they are doing and can be trusted. It’s the worst feeling to make a mistake, big or small, but it’s how you handle the situation and own up to it.

  5. Kathy Kwong says:

    I’m all too familiar with making mistakes. Owning up and handling them is another story, but as interns going into an industry where overlooked mistakes can be costly, we have to find a professional way to say it. This is our career and we chose it, so if we unintentionally hurt or discredit our reputation, we better choose real quick to fix it. It will make you look more professional and reputable to accept and acknowledge that it was an honest mistake. We’re human and that happens.

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