It’s never easy to tell others about the failures you’ve endured or the wrongs you’ve done. But, in a position of leadership, sharing your mistakes is a valuable tool for teaching and guiding. Although it may be uncomfortable or even embarrassing, it’s also humbling and helpful. Being open about your missteps and offering direction to the correct path will help teach second-hand lessons, so they don’t have to be experienced first-hand.

What will sharing your mistakes do for others?

As a leader, you want to see everyone succeed and grow. In fact, you don’t just want to see it, you want to help make it happen. Sharing your mistakes is a great way to help people learn from your failures so they don’t have to repeat them. Helping them avoid making the same mistakes will save them time and energy (which are so valuable).

Which mistakes are worth sharing?

We get it, you might not be thrilled to share all of your mistakes. And that’s okay because you don’t have to if you don’t want to. If you made mistakes that you aren’t proud of, and you’ve worked hard to come back from them and leave them in the past, that’s fine. But it’s likely that you’ve made more common mistakes, and those ones will help others if you’re willing to put down your pride and share them.

Mistakes from the following categories are great to share:

  • Communication 
  • Finances 
  • Goal setting 
  • Time management 
  • Team building 
  • Conflict management 
  • Networking

Sure, these are broad topics, but nobody’s perfect, and we’re all bound to have made a mistake in at least one of these categories. So, to prevent others from making the same errors, open up about what you did wrong.

Sharing your mistakes isn’t all you need to do.

A purple neon sign reads "It began as a mistake."

After you’ve explained your mistakes, remind your audience that you’ve recovered from them and moved on. This gives them hope that even if they make the same mistake, they will come back from it too. Then, in detail, walk them through your recovery process and what you would’ve done to avoid making the mistake altogether. Instead of just telling them how you fixed the problem, tell them how they can avoid it.

For example, if your mistake was giving too much time to the wrong activities, then explain how you learned to prioritize. Or, if your mistake was more related to showing up late to important events, walk your team through some tips and tricks for keeping a tight schedule and staying organized. There are so many ways to mismanage time. Keep your team ahead of the game by giving them a broader resource for managing time efficiently.

No matter what your mistakes are, ensure that when you’re teaching people how to recover from or avoid making the same mistakes, you give them the proper tools and resources to do so.

Sharing your mistakes without shame.

Wooden tiles with black letters on them spell out the phrase “Own your error.”

Another important aspect of sharing your mistakes is being able to accept them for what they are. Whether they cost you time, money, relationships, or health, it doesn’t matter. What matters now is that you’ve recovered from your missteps and are helping others to avoid them altogether.

Don’t wallow in self-pity or feel sorry for yourself. Instead, allow yourself to feel guilty and recognize there are ways for you to make it right. Accept your past and use it to make a positive impact. Use your story to help people craft a brighter and better story of their own.

The world is better because of you.

When you choose to be humbled by your mistakes and let others see them, you grow. You become stronger and more compassionate. You learn to have more humility for others because you know that sharing your mistakes is difficult. But once you own up to them and use them to help people improve their lives, a weight is lifted off your shoulders. Keep sharing your story—because it matters.

If you want to help people avoid one of the biggest mistakes of all time, encourage them to stop fleeing from fear. Because fear should never have the power to hold you back.