Before jumping in and talking about mistakes, let’s get a clear definition of what it is. As a noun, the word mistakes means “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” As a verb, it means to be wrong about something. Either way, you and I have made plenty of them, but being a coach, I can hurt my client and my bank account when making mistakes.

So, it makes sense to limit them and deal with them better when they happen because if I don’t, it’s not great. Then, on the other hand, making mistakes is how we learn. Nothing would ever get done if we sat around in fear of making mistakes.  

It’s what’s called a catch-22.

You learn what didn’t work when you make mistakes and fall forward; on the flip side, you don’t like making mistakes. You either look foolish, lose money or status, and that feeling you have in your gut when it happens sucks too. Let’s jump in on how to deal with mistakes better, but first, a story.

Mistakes Story

Ohh, this one is a doozy, and it is about my first client around 13 years ago.

She was already in great shape because she watched what she ate and ran marathons. She hired me to add strength training to her routine to make her a better, more resilient runner. I thought I could throw anything at her because she was in great shape with a massive aerobic engine.

But I thought wrong. As runners need strong hamstrings, one morning, I thought we’d try the Romanian deadlift, or RDL for short.

The RDL is an excellent exercise for the hips and hamstrings but with one caveat. You need to know how to perform a hip hinge, and guess who didn’t teach their client how to do this? As a result, she completed the exercise using her lower back (not her hips). She strained her back because she flexed her lower back repeatedly under load.

Straining her lower back caused her to miss a few sessions but also forced her to withdraw from a marathon he was scheduled to run. A costly mistake for me that hurt her physically and emotionally.

Seeing it was a big mistake, you’d think I would learn from it. But I made it again, and this client gave me the finger on the way out. Making mistakes as a trainer is costly in more ways than one.

Dealing With Mistakes Better

I might not be an expert at many things, but I’m an expert at making the same mistakes repeatedly because I fail to follow my advice. Don’t be like me. Implement one of the pieces of advice below so you can better deal with your mistakes.

Patience When You Make Mistakes

Patience is an attractive trait and something many people struggle with, including me. Sometimes lack of patience is a good thing because it can give you the drive to get things done. But on the other hand, a lack of patience when driving in traffic can lead to accidents. Patience is a double-edged sword; only experience will tell you when to use one side or the other.

But if you are learning something new or doing something difficult and making mistakes, does it pay to be patient or impatient with yourself? The answer is obvious.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Yeah, it’s the oldest advice in the book is to learn from your mistakes. Easier said than done, but let’s step back for a moment. Instead of looking at your mistakes as whoppers you’ll never recover from, frame them as learning opportunities. You knew one way not to do the thing, and you’re one step further along to do the thing.

Becoming a decent coach took time, and I made my fair share of mistakes. But framing them as learning opportunities kept the negative self-talk to a minimum. Reframing your mistakes will help you too.  

Go Back A Step

Are you the type of person who unwraps an item, tears it from the box, and then tries to assemble it? Did you miss a step? That’s right, the instruction manual. Like me missing a step in NOT teaching my clients how to hip hinge correctly, sometimes you jump headlong into a thing and learn as you go.

Because you didn’t look at the instructions or you figured you muddle your way through it. Sometimes it pays to go through all the steps of the thing you’re trying to do. It might take longer, but once you do it right, doing it again will be easier.

Short Memory

What would happen if a professional athlete who needs to make split-second judgments dwelled on making the wrong one the next time they stepped up? Probably fail again. It helps to learn from your mistakes but doesn’t help to stay on them either. Instead, having a short memory after you have ‘reframed your mistake’ will help you move on faster.

Wrapping Up

We all make mistakes, so does it pay to deal with them better? I think so. Hopefully, using one or more of the suggestions above will help put your mistake (if you make any 😊) in the rearview mirror faster.

Have to go; my wife is at me about one of my mistakes. Wish me luck.


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