Turn Mistakes into Opportunities

08.06.2019 |

Episode #8 of the course How to improve your self-confidence by Patricia Haddock


Welcome to today’s lesson.

Yesterday, you learned four ways to improve your communication skills and develop greater confidence when speaking. Today, you will learn about reframing.

Reframing helps you shift your attitude about potentially negative situations so you can more easily cope with them and recover from setbacks. It was developed from studying how successful people act when facing challenges or mistakes.

When you reframe something, you change the meaning you give it. For example, I had to hit the road before dawn and drive several hours to deliver a series of workshops. It was cloudy and raining, and I was not happy about having such a long drive in bad weather. When I realized that my bad mood was making me miserable, I deliberately looked for something positive in the situation.

I was driving east at dawn, straight into the rising sun. The cloud cover was making it easier and safer for me to be on the road. At that moment, I felt grateful for the gloom. This is a small, simple reframe, but it completely shifted my perspective and mood.

What if you could do this when faced with a situation that makes you feel helpless or inadequate or when you make a costly mistake? You can! Here’s how you can use reframes to boost your confidence.

Shift into a growth mindset, and assume that there is something to be learned from the situation. This shift moves you from feeling helpless and stuck into feeling more capable.

Use mistakes as a means of making improvements. For example, early in my career as a communications officer for the bank, I missed a typo that changed the meaning of a sentence. It could have cost thousands of dollars in losses if we hadn’t caught it. When I stopped kicking myself, I went into reframe mode. First, I was grateful that the mistake had been discovered in time to fix it. Then, I reviewed what happened and discovered a flaw in the review process. We implemented a fix that ensured it would never happen again.

View challenges as opportunities to demonstrate your abilities and use your skills. Think of all the innovations we take for granted today that came from people meeting challenges head-on and succeeding. You’re probably reading this on a smartphone or tablet. The first “cell” phones weren’t very smart and were the size and weight of a brick. Luckily for us, innovators didn’t say, “This is the best we can do.” They challenged themselves to evolve those first clunky phones into what we have today.

Take a few minutes, and think of a current or past situation that you view negatively or are upset about. Shift your perspective, and brainstorm every positive thing that could be realized from this situation. How can you reframe it to see value in it? For example, let’s say your manager tells you that you often act in a demanding and aggressive way when people disagree with you. Instead of resenting this feedback and becoming angry or defensive, accept it as having validity and objectively evaluate it. In this example, it would be to your advantage to improve your communication skills and get along better with your coworkers. It would reduce the stress and defensiveness you feel when people disagree with you, and create more effective workplace relationships.

The ability to reframe can be learned with practice. When faced with a challenge, problem, mistake, or any situation that erodes your self-confidence, stop and reframe. This can be hard at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.

Remember, your thoughts affect your feelings and reactions. Choose to learn and grow by looking on the brighter side of things and finding value in everything that happens. Not only will your confidence grow, but you will enhance your professional reputation and interpersonal relationships.

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” —William James, American philosopher and psychologist

Tomorrow, you will learn how to keep growing your skills and deepening your self-confidence.

See you tomorrow.



Recommended reading

“Positive Reframing” as Optimistic Thinking

How to Restore Your Confidence after It Takes a Hit


Recommended book

Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Foltz Jones


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