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Shooting Oneself in the Foot… Again?

Most of us can relate to the idiom about “shooting oneself in the foot.”

We are painfully aware of those times when our efforts work against us instead of for us. Or we watch others in disbelief as they sabotage their own best plans and intentions.

Ideally we would serve as our own best friend. We naturally feel regret, embarrassment, and confusion when we find ourselves to be our own worst enemy.

Imagine being betrayed by the one who should be our most trusted advocate. How do we build trust with ourselves again? Or do we slowly spiral downward in a cycle of mistakes, eroding self-confidence and further mistakes?

Instead of focusing on eliminating mistakes (an unrealistic and futile goal), what if we worked on becoming better advocates for ourselves?

What if, instead of interpreting errors as failure events, we viewed them as learning processes?

1. What if you viewed your mistakes as the beginning of something constructive instead of the end of something disastrous? What might you learn from the situation? What might you do differently going forward? What needs to improve in your own thinking, your team’s communication, or your organization’s processes? What benefit going forward can you construct from this unfortunate situation?

Mistakes can become new beginnings.

2. What if you viewed errors as learning in motion instead of static grades on a report card. It’s the difference between a motion picture and a photograph. If you take an uncomplimentary driver’s license photo, that’s the image everyone sees for the next four years. You’re stuck. But in a motion picture there is time for story, development, and change. The reason for the ghastly grimace can be explained, understood and… here’s the main value… addressed. Change can be a good thing when it is learning in motion.

Mistakes can become a laboratory of learning.

3. What if you reinterpreted your mistakes as helpful clues pointing to opportunities to grow and develop instead of damning evidence of our limitations? People are maturing, developing creatures. Failures don’t pronounce our skills at at a dead-end, rather they suggest where our skills are at the cusp of development. Mistakes are parts of your skill set that are ready to grow before you know they are. Errors are how these learning edges break through to our awareness.

Mistakes can become valuable clues for direction.

Being gracious towards our failures doesn’t let us off the hook for change, grace makes change possible. Being judgmental or harsh with oneself isn’t the expression of responsibility or seriousness that we might imagine it is. Judgment merely seals our fate with a conclusive negative label and makes change almost impossible.

Reinterpreting failure as a learning process is a way of giving ourselves the gifts of new beginnings, a laboratory for learning and valuable clues for direction. Now that’s being an advocate for ourselves!

Where do you need to do some reinterpretation of your failures? How might you becomes a better advocate for yourself in the midst of a serious mistake?

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

4 Responses to “Shooting Oneself in the Foot… Again?”

  1. David Rupert Says:


    I think the best thing is to just come right out and admit it when we make a mistake. Covering it up, minimizing it or any of the other contortions we go through are just silly. Everyone else knows our weakness, so we might as well get all out in the open.

    David, http://www.redletterbelievers.com

  2. Charles Esters Says:

    I have missed opportunities or done things to cause a deal to unravel as working with buyers and sellers as a real estate agent. So many times when I just could not trust, I was capable of doing the job. Thanks for the helpful pointers in looking at those “blown feet” times as learning times or merely steps towards a breakthrough. I am reminded of J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase of James,’ “when…trials…crowd into your lives…don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the qualty of endurance…” Thanks Karl, your words have encouraged me to hang in there.

  3. Karl Edwards Says:


    Yes, it’s amazing how much energy and good will we squander by putting on a show of competence, strength and invincibility, when everyone already knows we’re human.

    Thanks for checking in.

    – Karl

  4. Karl Edwards Says:


    Good to hear from you. Thank you in advance for choosing to hang in there, so to speak. You are a gift to the community, and we’ll all be better off as you keep showing up fully and bringing yourself unreservedly to the table. Great insights.

    – Karl

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