So You Made a Mistake, Missed a Deadline, Blew it . . . Now What?

June 19, 2018


Cliff Notes for those of you who just want the high level, here you go . . . for those who want to grow . . . keep reading!


Handling a Mistake or a Miss:

1. Suspend | Listen | Clarify

2. Own & Apologize

3. Forgive & Release

4. Plan for Change


How many times [countless] have we all blown it, made mistakes, or missed deadlines and our knee jerk reaction has been to point to something other than ourselves as the reason. Essentially saying I’m not responsible for owning my actions, responsibilities, and commitments.



When you have a miss and you don’t communicate, adjust, and own you leave the person depending on you (the Depender-on-er) with a few choices. One of which might be to say nothing, enabling you not to be the owner of your actions, allowing you to remain stuck in the proverbial “not my fault mode.” Or, they may escalate out of frustration and move the situation into an emotional level that is not needed while clouding and creating other issues. Another option might be for the Depender-on-er to calmly walk you through the situation and identify your misses for you and establish a plan to work better in the future. Either way, when you are not taking responsibility for your actions you are asking someone else to decide how to handle them for you. If you are doing this, you will likely stay in your sucky state of living in “not my fault, not my problem land” which translates to lost friendships, frustration, frequent job changes, and the worst . . . Jr. High finger-pointing, backroom talking [a personal abhorrence of this writer].



As a business owner and a woman in leadership, here’s what I’ve learned about handling mistakes . . . OWN them and STOP repeating them . . . the sincerest apology I know. Ok, now that I got that out, how does that look exactly? I’m taking a leadership course through Aileron, and something I’m learning is to “suspend judgement” or to not make snap assumptions so I can gather more data. When someone feels you’ve not followed through on your commitments stop talking and let them speak [visualize your hand chatting and the other hand clamping down on it . . . Stop talking].


The next step is crucial . . . seek to understand, before being understood. In other words, put an ancient technique into place called active listening (be present). Gather your data. Be curious. Ask questions (clarifying questions) non-judging questions. Using a neutral tone will be paramount to successfully navigating this phase. This will be a powerful place to start because right away your Depender-on-er will feel you’ve heard them and are sincerely taking the situation seriously. It is also a perfect place to come to a mutual (non-confrontational) understanding of what really happened.



Ok, so you’ve listened and asked clarifying questions and you have data . . . If you are a person who needs time to process, then ask the Depender-on-er if you could have some time to think through what’s happened and how to approach your next steps (offer a short, apologetic sentence to help them know you are hearing them). If you are not a processor, choose your next words very carefully. Whatever they are, they need to include the words “I’m sorry” and provide clarity on what you are owning . . . that you are owning your miss with specifics. And again, it’s possible in the clarifying questions phase above, it will become obvious who is responsible for what decisions were made or actions taken and the responsible “sorry” can come out naturally, diffusing the situation and providing assurance of how to communicate and work better together in the future.



Lastly, forgive and release the person(s) who need it (especially yourself). On a good day, you can only control you! Master these areas and you’ll become not only a great communicator, great employee, great manager, great leader, but you’ll also become a person others respect, just as you yourself do.



At the end of the day, you need to develop character exemplified as a  “High Say, High Do” ratio . . . meaning it is more likely what you say, you will also do. If you keep repeating the same mistakes, you may want to seriously consider getting some training, counseling, or even make a career change. Just remember, wherever you go, there you are . . . you are responsible for your actions and behavior . . . you get to choose.



SO, I made a mistake . . . What do I do . . . Be Brave and Own

Suggestion: Copy this list on several 3x5 cards and put in strategic areas . . . to remember! 


  1. Suspend | Listen | Clarify

  2. Own & Apologize

  3. Forgive & Release

  4. Plan for Change




Barbara E Hogan

Barbara Hogan is the Founder, CEO, and President of Timbelo, Inc., a woman-owned, WBENC / SBA 8(m) certified company specializing in business strategy and culture. Barbara is also co-owner of Afidence, a local award winning IT company, with her husband, Bryan. Other experience includes strategic marketing, project management, business development, training, customer service, and office management. Barbara is also an Ordained Sr. Chaplain with the IFOC and has held other leadership positions in various ministries and boards across the Cincinnati/Dayton corridor.


Barbara has a compelling passion for impacting others and improving lives. Whether in the realm of her personal or professional life there is no distinction—people are important. She has a strong sense of integrity, bold thought leadership, and deep respect for others.


Please reload

featured posts

Happy Birthday, Kevin Karnes!

November 1, 2019

Please reload

recent posts

October 31, 2019

October 28, 2019

October 24, 2019

Please reload

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon
  • Grey Google+ Icon





5412 Courseview Drive

Suite 122B

Mason, OH 45040


1628 LTD

11 Garfield Place

Cincinnati, OH 45202


4900 Lyons Rd, Suite C

Miamisburg, OH 45342