I am recovering from a situation where being wrong, stuffing up and failing are the worst thing that could ever happen to me—a problem almost entirely in my head. I would make a mistake and be so paralysed with fear that I would try to cover my tracks, hide from those I was accountable for, and get super sneaky.

I thought making a mistake meant I was untrustworthy, stupid and disappointed. It turns out that it wasn’t stuffing up that was those things; it was all the rubbish that followed. So how did I turn it around? How do I stuff up now and bounce back? I’m glad you asked because I will tell you all about it. I call it stuffing up in style, and you, too, will be an expert. Let’s roll.


Fess up quickly.


A big part of my problem was trying to avoid having to tell anyone I’d made a mistake. No matter the size, if I could hide it and have it never see the light of day, that would be my ultimate. But these things have a way of building up importance when hidden in the closet and never really go away. So it was time I stopped doing that.

I get it over with quickly, like ripping off a band-aid now. I go straight to whomever I am accountable and say, ‘I stuffed up; this went wrong and here’s how I’m trying to fix it’. For example, ‘I accidentally spray painted the house, what can I say I just missed, and I’ve spoken to someone about repainting it’.

Got it? Good! A sorry about that, or my mistake would go a long way too. But don’t waste people’s time making excuses and looking for good reasons. Get to the point and present them with a solution or something of a fix-it. Fess up, and you’ll find that a problem shared is a problem halved.


Look for a solution.


Continuing from the point above, you mustn’t ignore your mistake or crumble into a ball of inefficiency now that you’ve made a mess. I used to work with a girl who got so upset by an error that she would be found sobbing in the corner and was no help to anyone trying to fix the situation. Super annoying. Even more so when you consider that girl was me! I want to kick my butt.

You have to shove aside those feelings of being a big, fat loser and start to find a way around the situation. If you can’t see your way clear of it, seek advice from those around you. Ask like you fessed up earlier, and don’t waffle on. I find something along the lines of “do you have 5 minutes? {proceed if yes} Well, I set fire to the office wheelie bin throwing away candles, it burnt to the ground, and now there’s a big pool of melted plastic on the footpath, any ideas how I could get that removed?”.

Be clear, get to the point, and leave enough of a pause for people to laugh at your most recent exploits. That might be exclusive to me and my tendency to find me in odd situations, but if that’s you, leave the gap. The person will hopefully be able to help you find a solution, and you’re on the way to the bounce back.


You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, just embarrassed, maybe.


For me, a significant factor of why making a mistake or stuffing it FELT so bad was that I felt ashamed to have done so. I was ashamed of what I thought it meant and what other people would think of me. And you know what? In most cases, it doesn’t matter.

Sure it matters if you forgot to send an essential document to your boss or left your significant parcel on the roof of your car. But there’s nothing you can do about it, AND it doesn’t mean anything about you. You just messed up. How you come back from this says WAY more about you. Promise.


Recovery is everything.


You’ve seen those events where the runner gets the horrible start or the figure skater stacks it, yes? Well, just like them, it’s how you recover that matters. So will you stand up, dust yourself off and get the job done or join past Suger in the corner bawling her eyes out? I recommend the former, by the way.

So get to work on the solution, leave your massive failure behind you and move on. You’ve seen all those motivational quotes about being knocked down 50 times and standing up 51 and others in that ilk, right? Well, this is that. No one remembers that you fell after a while, only that you got back up.

So get one with it. Laying sprawled on the pavement is never a good look. And you might get stood on.


What’s the takeaway?


When I say takeaway, I don’t mean what’s for dinner. I mean, what’s the lesson you learnt from this little faceplant? Was it to check the destination city before booking flights instead of winging it and sending important folks flying all over the country? Or having an auto-check for spelling before you ship?

Sometimes the lesson isn’t as easy to see as those examples. It might be something like, don’t serve food from the fridge that might be off to guests. But, whatever the lesson, take it and run with it. And you know, do your best not to do it again. For me, life is about learning stuff and moving on.

If you don’t learn your lessons, it’s incredible how often you repeat the same mistake repeatedly, but it will escalate until it can no longer be ignored. And that, my friends, is hard to come back from. So learn it while it’s small. Don’t wait for it to build up steam. You’d much instead meet the plastic toy version head-on than the bullet train. Right?




how to make a mistake stuff up bounce back


And that my friends are on my list! How to stuff up like a boss and recover quickly. It’s taken years and lots of practice to share this here, so you’re welcome. Tell me the best stuff up you’ve ever made! Bonus points for funny ones. And I don’t have to share mine because every example in this post has happened to me. Every. Single. One. I’m the queen of the stuff up—all hail.

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