Last week’s Wellness Wednesday focused on having a mindset of being willing to fail in order to ultimately succeed. This mindset leads to growth and development. Unfortunately, another mindset prevents learning and growth. With this dysfunctional mindset, we are more likely to respond to mistakes and failure in the following four ways:

  1. Deny: We deny a mistake by verbally or mentally stating that it didn’t happen or by hiding the evidence that it did.

  1. Blame: We acknowledge the mistake or failure, but hold someone else responsible for it.
  2. Justify: When it is obvious to others that we made the mistake or failed, we can’t use the strategies of deny or blame. Rather, our survival strategy is to justify the mistake by giving ‘good’ reasons or excuses for doing so.

  1. Dwell: We dwell by focusing on the mistake or failure and letting it overwhelm us by playing it over and over again. We let the mistake or failure define us.

Willow used to be a world-class dweller. After making a mistake, her thinking would go like this: “What is wrong with me? That was so stupid. Why did I do that? I’ll never be able to get over this. What are people going to think!”

When we are responding in these dysfunctional ways, we do not get the important life lessons that are available in the mistake or failure. Consequently, we are more likely to repeat the mistake. Life will offer us many opportunities to learn the lesson. However, with each subsequent mistake, the consequences tend to become more severe.


  • Identify times when you have practiced these dysfunctional strategies. What lessons weren’t learned or what growth didn’t taken place by practicing these strategies?

Next time you make a mistake or fail, practice a Top 20 response by saying to yourself or others, “I just made a mistake. I wonder what I can learn from this?”

From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…who keep learning from new mistakes.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training