How To Deal With Mistakes YOU Make


This is a contiuing series of How Do You Answer Tough Questions.

Question:  Are there any decisions you have made in your professional life that you have had second thoughts or regrets about or that you felt you could have done better?  If not, you must be an amazing person!  What guidelines do you follow to ensure great decision making?


Well first, I am not an amazing person.  I have had my share of mistakes in decision making throughout my career.  We are all going to make mistakes with decisions we make or, at least, we are going to second-guess some of the decisions we make in our lives after the fact.


The most important thing, I think, you should do when you make a mistake in a decision is to do your best to recover, learn the lesson, and try not to repeat that mistake.  I have made a lot of mistakes at one time or another.


One way to recover is to admit the mistake to yourself and to others, if others were involved. Another thing to do is to go about correcting the mistake as soon as possible.  I once got fired from a job.  It was my fault because I did not research the company very well, and they went bankrupt 90 days after I joined them . . . and I lost my job.


I went about finding another job; but this time, I was very careful to investigate the company beforehand . . . and I was able to join a great company and have a great career there.


After that I always took more time to make an important decision, and I now ask for advice from people that I trust.


On the other hand, one has to take some risks from time to time as nothing is guaranteed in life.

 I left Marriott in 1990 to join Disney.  That was a risk.  I had been at Marriott for 17 years, and I had a secure position and career ahead of me.


I asked my wife, Priscilla, what she thought; and she said, “Let’s go.”  She went on to give me her reasoning.  She said, “Lee, this is an opportunity to work for Disney, live in Paris, and they are going to pay you.  If you don’t do this, you will look back in five years and regret it.  Life is short; let’s go for it.”

 One of the main reasons I wanted her advice was that back in 1972 when I got fired, I had a secure job and was offered this new job for double my salary.  She advised me not to take it or to get a contract.  I basically told her that I knew what I was doing and that she should not worry about it.  We went . . . and as I said before, I was fired.  She was great.  She did not tell me, “I told you so.”

 I was very impulsive when I was younger and made a few errors in the way I dealt with people.  I have changed in that regard quite a bit.

 So I think the main advice is to take your time and/or get advice from people you trust . . . and when you make a mistake, admit it, apologize if appropriate, and move on.

 If you live a life with no mistakes, then you have no chance of reaching your true potential.  Living on the edge is sometimes exciting, sometimes depressing, and often rewarding!   . . . Lee

PS: I had a great day yesterday. I spent the whole day with the Army Corps of Engineers. I gave a keynote speech and then sat in with them in their breakout sessions. This is a very professional group of leaders. They took a hit with their reputation when Katrina hit New Orleans and the levy’s failed. I have known for a long time that this was not thier fault. There is along, long history of Congress not approving the money to fix high risk infrastructure in the US. The projects the Corps does is very impressive and amounts to over 40 billion a year in projects. Snow continutes to fall in Santa Fe….I just made another mistake. I did not rent a four wheel drive vehicle. Live and learn.

  1. Life without mistakes I think means your dead? Live learn and move on. Have fun in Santa Fe it’s a wonderfull place. Jim

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