In the early 1870s, two brothers took over a London-based family business following their father’s death. Anxious to make a great success, the brothers entered their product into a city-wide competition.
One brother redesigned the bottle while the other designed and printed the label.
When they realized the mistake, there was no time to change either the bottle or label size.
They entered the contest but did not win.
Disappointed but not surprised, they put their best faces on when one of the judges approached. Ignoring their apologies for the colossal mistake, the judge pointed out that, while they might have lost the competition, their oversized label was on every judge’s lips. He suggested they retain this quirk to distinguish themselves from other bitters’ manufacturers.
150-years later, Angostura Bitters is still found in kitchens and bars worldwide, wonky labels, and all.
Not every mistake turns into marketing gold, but every situation provides growth and knowledge opportunities regardless of the outcome.
Here are five powerful questions to ask when you’ve made a mistake. Embody the answers, and you will be surprised how quickly you move from failure to captain of your next great endeavor.
- What just happened? Become crystal clear on what just happened. Drill deeply into the scenario that just played out and over which you feel defeated and draw as much clarity as possible. You might be surprised how much worse the inner critic paints situations. In one sentence, state the truth of what has happened.
- How can I stay visible? The Angostura brothers didn’t hide when they failed to win the coveted prize. They remained in the room, held their heads up high, and stayed connected to their community despite some apologetic backpedaling.
- What was my role in this situation? Ask challenging questions and learn more about yourself. A better understanding of your actions requires perspective and objectivity. Inquire with friends or colleagues for their views while remaining open to grow and learn. Greater self-awareness opens the door for future opportunities while telling false stories keeps us tied to the same behaviors.
- What can I learn because of this situation? Life is packed with teaching moments if we have our eyes open and a heart willing to be stretched.
- How can I grow because of this situation? Identify one action item you can implement in the daily life that moves you closer to realizing a growth and development goal.
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Never forget, there is life after failure.