Photo: Pixabay

There I was, sitting in my new office in my new position as HR manager and proud as hell!
I more than deserved this job, I had learnt a lot, done a lot for the first time – bitten my way through, asked my way through, never gave up. Obviously to the satisfaction of my employer.
But me, too, I was satisfied!
I loved what I did – and could now do even more of it!
Coaching and training with staff, organising employee weeks and celebrations. Standing up for the needs of the staff and mediating in conflict talks and being the contact person for the trainees.
I was happy!
Until I started doing payroll as well.
With this task, I now inevitably had insights into the salaries of my colleagues.
There it was, the comparison.
And I only came off mediocre.
Was I not worth it?
Was I not good enough after all?
Had I simply not been tough enough to negotiate?
Why hadn’t I been offered more?
Were the communicated targets of possible salary increases just excuses?
Others were getting more too!
Had my employer “ripped me off” – and was secretly happy because with me he got a “good price-performance ratio”?
And suddenly my happiness was gone.
And with it the mood, motivation and above all the work focus.

It seemed as if everything I loved about this job suddenly had no relevance any more.
The results of the comparison hovered over everything like a black rain cloud.

Well, the comparison. It doesn’t matter whether it’s social or financial – it’s proven that it is the No. 1 happiness killer.
There will always be someone who has more, earns more, who is “better off” (at least it looks like…).

That we compare ourselves often happens out of a very simple programme: we want to be able to keep up and want to please – in short, to know what it takes to belong and to be a part of the community (survival without community was originally very unlikely – and is still quite unhealthy today ;-)). This is the reason why we orient ourselves towards the community. And there is nothing wrong with a basic orientation to determine one’s own position.
It only becomes critical when we no longer have an own position because we are constantly on the move to achieve the next thing that we think we need or that is expected of us.

Constant comparison has the consequence…

… that we never arrive. I.e. lasting satisfaction is not possible.
… that we feel like we are being driven – that we live in an external rather than a self-determined way (and this has been proven to make us unhappy, too!).
… that we make ourselves dependent on the standards and opinions of others (and are thus also easier to get hooked on the “consumption needle” – and place ourselves in own dependencies, e.g. financially).
… that we might reach a point where we wonder why we are not happy though we have everything.

There is only one standard that can make you happy – and that is your own. If we have the courage to stand by it, we may get the odd unpleasant reaction – but it wears off. (My favourite quote for this is: “Today’s newspaper wraps tomorrow’s fish”)
But what remains is the feeling that you are being true to yourself and giving space to your needs.
And that lasts longer than today’s headlines!

At what point do you still allow yourself to be influenced by comparison or external circumstances against your true needs?

How could you get closer to yourself and your standard for a happy life?

May you be happy!


PS: I successfully tackled the issue of my salary in the following years. However, if I had done it with the frustrated and hostile attitude I had because of the first comparison, it would certainly not have been crowned with success 🙂

Powerful Relationships

Photo: Pixabay

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn.

Personal connections and relationships are more important than ever. The last months and years have forced us to move personal encounters to virtual ones. There might have been benefits of this development – and sometimes, the virtual option was the only one to stay in touch at all. However, in the long run, nothing can replace the resonance that happens of tw people meet. And it’s exactly this resonance, the feeling of belonging, it’s our realtionships that carry us through life – and difficutlt times.

So I guess it’s time to focus on our relationships, to approach each other again. It’s also a good time to check, who we have missed – and who we might want to say goodbye to in the future.
Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?
And how do you feel after meeting these people? Inspired? Supported? Challenged?
Or rather exhausted, tense, empty?

Who are the people who lift you up, who inspire you?
How could you spend more with them or reconnect?

Relationships are the greatest power in our life.

The regular exchange with friends and people close to us reduces stress. Socialising is proven to be one of the best coping strategies.
And talking personal development, we can take advantage of the fact that we are influenced and shaped by our environment.
What would you like more of in your life? Which qualities and values would you like to develop further?
What do you admire other people for? And how much time do you spend with people who are already living these qualities?

Most fears are caused by uncertainty and the unknown.

To take subsequent actions, you may need to step out of your comfort zone. On the one hand it is sometimes difficult for us – because we need connections to people – to terminate or reduce relationships that cost us energy to a minimum.
On the other hand, it can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable to approach people we do not know and who look at things from a different perspective – because the unknown causes insecurity and sometimes even fear.
It is easier to surround oneselfs with the known – and to seek relationships with people who confirm us in what we already are and do. But if we want to develop further, we don’t need encouragement and confirmation for what we already are, but challenge and impulse for what we want to be. So if it feels weird, welcome the uncertainty with open arms – because it is your indicator that you are on the right track.

Take a few minutes today to think about the quality of your relationships – and what you could change to blossom (even more) with them in the future.

Sometimes your don’t have to change yourself to feel better – sometimes you simple have to change the environment.

Yours sincerely,


A break is not a bonus

Photo: Pixabay

Breaks are not a reward for what has been achieved but the basic prerequisite for being able to perform at all.

How often do you say to yourself: “I’ll take a break once I have finished xyz, …” The break should not be the last point on your to-do list, but should be scheduled regularly, so your body and mind can regenerate and you remain fit. The “if then attitude” is like driving to Spain, running out of gas in the middle of France and saying: “Once I’ve arrived in Spain, I’ll refuel”.

Breaks are like pit-stops.

Breaks are like pit-stops – they refuel you. Without pauses, our brain is also not able to process recorded information. This does not happen during recording, but during a rest. In addition, when pausing, we do not lose but gain time. Those who regularly skip breaks do less and less in the same time and run the risk of making more mistakes – which then have to be corrected – time that could be saved.

Time for a break?

In everyday life you should take a short break every 60-120 minutes. A few minutes are enough! If you pay attention to your body signals, it’s quite clear when it is time for a break:

  • You feel like eating a snack (usually something sweet).
  • You’re starting to yawn.
  • You feel the need to loll and stretch.
  • Your thoughts wander off
  • You’re more easily distracted.

Flow or fanatic?

Sometimes it can happen that we are completely absorbed by a task. As long as we do it with ease and joyful focus, it is very likely that we are in the flow. This state of being pleasantly challenged in a task we love and find meaningful is usually enriching and not exhausting.

If, however, you observe yourself “sticking” more and more to a task, blinking less and less, breathing flatter and adopting a tense and quite static posture, you are not in flow but you are getting your teeth into it. You lose contact with yourself and with time and you are stressed out. If this seems familiar to you, I recommend the “Pomodoro Technique”. This time management method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. It was named after the kitchen stopwatch in tomato form. As with spaghetti cooking, you set your kitchen clock (or alternatively the alarm clock of your mobile phone – which you can then keep in your pocket on vibration alarm) to 30 or 60 minutes. Take a break as soon as it rings – this way you stay al-dente the day ;-))

Variety is king

The regular breaks do not have to last long, 2-5 minutes are enough. Everything that is the opposite to you previous activity contributes to your recovery.

For example, if you working on a desk with a screen …

  • Look through the window of your office and let your thoughts wander. (break for the eyes)
  • Take a few steps – preferably in the fresh air (break for the body)
  • let your thoughts wander (pause for the spirit)
  • Drink a glass of water
  • No need to switch from PC screen to mobile screen

When you work standing up or in the midst of a lot of people:

  • look for a quiet place – best in nature with fresh air, sit upright and close your eyes. Perhaps you even meditate briefly
  • drink a glass of water or make yourself a cup of tea

No matter in which activity, a change of location makes it easier for us to switch off and enjoy the break time (from the desk to the kitchenette, from the sales room to the door, etc.).

So, take a break and stay al-dente!

All the best,



Photo: Pixabay

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend that reminded me of the “If-only-I-hads”.
I once read – and my hairdresser, who volunteers at the hospice, confirms this – that at the end of our lives, we don’t regret what we did – but what we didn’t do.

I call this the “If-only-I-hads”.

Maybe you think it’s tough that I’m writing about the end of life here?
But honestly, isn’t it much tougher that we somehow assume we live forever? – Or, at least in our latitudes, somehow relatively successfully repress the fact that we don’t do so? Instead, we distract ourselves, like driven people running after the “I shoulds” every day with have no time left for what is important to us.

Many decisions, I have wrestled with myself for a long time, became so much easier with the thought “would this be something you would regret in the end if you hadn’t/had done it?” This consideration usually sents me clear signals about what the right decision is for me. I want to leave this planet with as few “If-only-I-hads” as possible.
Careful, there’s a little catch here: it’s not about what “you should have done” or what the world tells you is right and wrong – it’s solely about your own inner compass.

If-only-I-hads for me, come in three categories:

If-only-I-hads in relation to experiences.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try?
Or a place you absolutely want to see?

If-only-I-hads in relation to jobs and careers
This includes, for example … “I wish I had done that further training”.
If only I had taken the plunge into self-employment …
If only I had looked for another job …
If only I had reduced my working hours…
If only I had dared to take on the project…

If-only-I-hads in relation to relationships…
If only I had called to clarify the situation.
If only I had forgiven.
If only I hadn’t been too proud to ….
If only I had invested more time in the relationship with x/y/z.
If only I had taken the initiative …

Reasons for If-only-I-hads, i.e. for not doing things even though we OUGHT to do them, are manifold – pride, embarrassment, being offended, fears, wanting to be right, assumptions, interpretations, prejudices … most of them can be summarised under: EGO.

Our ego causes

  • That it is difficult for us to jump over our shadow (“I am really too embarrassed to get in touch again because how it went last time …”)
  • That we want so much to be right – sometimes even with assumptions that have not even been checked! (“If you are self-employed, you work yourself and all the time and are always afraid that the money won’t be enough”. / “He/she probably doesn’t want to see me anyway – as long as he/she hasn’t contacted me now …”). (Third-hand information is also assumption, by the way).
  • That “the principle” is more important to us than the matter (“Nah, he/she started the argument after all, why should I approach him/her?”).

Yes, our ego is important because it also has a protective function and helps us to draw boundaries. But when it becomes too important and takes us further away from what really matters to us, then it is time to park it.

How do you recognise “If-only-I-hads”?
They keep coming up – because somehow you haven’t made your peace with them yet.
Something keeps triggering you.
If, for example, you have made peace with the fact that the connection to a certain person no longer exists, then there is no longer any regret or anger about it.

What “If-only-I-hads” are there in your life?

What is really important to you?

Which “If-only-I-hads” could you turn into a “do-it-now” next week?
What do you want to clarify, try out, decide in order to achieve more inner peace?

Seize the day and be good to yourself!


Saying no

Photo: Pixabay

Hello Birgit!
Please write the minutes. You always do such a great job.
We beg you. You’re our last hope.
You already refused the other day. You can’t do it again.
It’s mean, isn’t it?
What was your strongest spontaneous reaction?

(from Wiebke Wimmer’s newsletter of 11.04.2022)

This is how a newsletter began that landed in my mailbox this week.
It was about saying no.

Pretty much to the point, the three most popular reasons that often make it difficult for us to say no. Depending on the situation and personality, we tend to say yes because …
1. We feel honoured that we are trusted to do it and yes, we can do it faster and better – so, why not helping (competence)?
2. We feel responsible for the welfare of others (sense of responsibility)
3. We want to do everything right (guilty conscience).

How can we still manage not to say yes, even though we actually think no?

Regarding the three points mentioned above – let’s turn the perspective around:
1. Competence: If we take something away from others because we can do it better, we likewise take away their chance to become better at it! (And increase the likelihood that they will continue to choose the easier path – directly to us).
2.Sense of responsibility: If we feel primarily responsible for the welfare of others, who will take care of our own – and when?
3. Bad conscience: If we are easily made to feel bad, we become the plaything of others’ expectations.

So how can we go about it?

Here are my top 3 tips (in order of importance) that have worked quite well for me so far to help me deal with saying no better and to say it more often.
It’s not about just saying no – it’s about feeling good about the yes we say and also being able to stand by them with conviction.

Tip 1 – Take time to think!
We often say yes quickly because we are afraid of the reaction to a no. But rarely do we think about the consequences of saying yes – which are often much more serious than the reactions to a no. In order to get clarity about whether I can afford to say yes and whether I really want to, it’s helpful not to say yes immediately, but to ask for time to think about it. And then to use this time to weigh things up and come back to my counterpart with a decision that I can really stand behind.

Tip 2 – A clear no.
Don’t ramble on and pay attention to the wording. Sometimes the way we say no can already tell you that we feel bad about it (only if we haven’t taken point 1 into account ;-)). So, make a conscious decision and say clearly: “No, I can’t.” or “No, this does not work for me.” etc.

Tip 3 – No excuses. No explanations. No justifications.
This is closely related to tip 2 – especially if we rush to justify or apologise for saying no, it gives the impression that we feel uncomfortable and weakens our position. From there, it is often only a small step to change our minds. Of course, we may be asked why we refuse (I have experienced this in less than half of the cases when I was really clear). Then of course we can say something about it. And the clearer we have become through our reflection period, the clearer we will also be able to express the explanation.

Of course, there is a lot more to say about learning to say no. But, no, that’s all I wanted to give you today. I have deliberately chosen the three power tips and hope they will help you.

Two final thoughts:
Check how you yourself react to a no from others. Do you respect it the way you want yours to be respected?

And – don’t forget:

A no to something or someone is a yes to you and what is important to YOU.

In this sense!

Just say no 🙂


Puzzle your life

Photo: Pixabay

I am late!

Normally I have already written my blog articles during the week so that they can appear on time on Sunday mornings. This week was somehow different. And actually, it’s not just this week. It’s a process that has already been happening – and now I think it’s reached its peak.

A lot is happening in my life right now – for which I am incredibly grateful, because I am facing wonderful developments and changes. At the same time, however, it recognised, that changes also somehow undermine familiar routines. My life and the habits I had set up for myself no longer work that way. Everything has its time – new aspects have been added, others are slowly saying goodbye.

Especially in phases of such a big or small upheaval, it feels as if life has simply taken a few pieces out of your beautiful puzzle, which you have just put together so carefully, and added new ones in. And now it’s up to you to arrange them in a new picture. Sometimes it is enough to change only parts of the whole picture, but sometimes you have deconstruct and rearrange everything (provided, of course, that you want to integrate the new aspects). It can feel quite strange when parts of your life design are “lying around loose” for the time being.

I have noticed that the following approaches help me to get through such phases in a more relaxed way:

  1. Endurance and patience. Such phases are normal, life is a flow and not a construct that can be planned to the end. And changes need time. Try not to force or hurry anything – and also not to cling to old routines and behaviours out of insecurity, which may have had their day. That’s like forcibly squeezing pieces that no longer fit into your puzzle – they will disrupt the overall picture and may even break in the process.
  2. Joy! What a chance to rearrange things! In such a phase there is also a lot of creative freedom and power that you can use to your advantage!
  3. Big Picture. Lift your perspective- away from the small close detailed one to the big picture. What do you want your picture to look like in the end?
  4. Realign. What is important to you? Which routines & behaviours are conducive to your new vision? Which ones have had their day? What feels awkward? How could it be easier to manage?

    Such course corrections can be smaller or larger. But whenever things feel bumpy for a longer time and don’t feel so easy anymore, take a closer look.

Avoid, out of principle (or a need for security), continuing to do something that no longer serves you or does you any good. (For example, if you have been exercising regularly to relieve stress, but now it stresses you out to have to schedule exercise as well, then it’s time to look at how you can pursue your “stress reduction” intention differently).

Are there areas in your life that need to be “reassembled”?
Which pieces of the puzzle have become obsolete?
What should your new picture look like in the end?

Have fun with the puzzle and thank you for your patience and loyalty in my current phase of change.

Have a pleasant week!


PS: If I can also help you in phases of change or reorientation, please feel free to contact me!

Random Acts of Kindness for Happiness

Photo: Pixabay

Psychologists agree, studies have proven it: We are hardwired for kindness and the desire to help.

A study by the University of Washington, for example, showed that altruistic, i.e. selfless and helpful, behaviour is already be shown at the age of one and a half. In one experiment, children who were hungry at the time of the experiment helped an adult to get back a piece of fruit they let drop. They children acted spontaneously – and also showed the same behaviour in repeated experiments. The researchers concluded that helpfulness does not have to be trained or learned.

“Yes, but when does it get lost?” You may ask yourself on of those days when somehow everyone seems to think only of themselves.
There may be quite different explanations for this for each of us. In my opinion, a quite general one is that especially under stress we first think about “our own survival”.
Maybe you feel the same way sometimes – or just now?
But quietly you wish for more helpfulness, joy and being seen?
Then here is a crazy tip:
Break the circle by starting to give what you want to receive.

The beauty of it is that doing good for others (without expecting anything) makes you happier and more fullfilled. This is because generous behaviour activates an area of the brain that is closely linked to our reward centre. It also changes our self-image – we perceive ourselves as a person who is capable, competent and able to help others. This raises self-esteem and increases composure.

It often helps me to get out of my “how badly I am doing drama” if I shift the focus from my own needs to the needs of the people around me and think of small gestures of kindness or generosity.
But it is important to have an altruistic mindset.
It is not altruistic to think “now I have done xy for person A, but nothing ever comes back.”
In this case we attach a condition – or at least an unexpressed expectation – to our generosity. Not really altruistic.

Two aspects help you to avoid or minimise this thinking:

  1. Do something good for someone you don’t know – so that the person has “no chance of getting even”.
  2. Do something good for someone ANONYMOUSLY – so that the delighted person cannot understand from whom the gratuity came. (It’s cool if you still find a way to witness the reaction – e.g. by observing from a distance – but without showing up, intervening, asking!)

Try it out start some RAKs. RAK stands for “Random Acts of Kindness”.

Everyone can contribute with small gestures of generosity so that there is more joy in the big picture. And since joy is contagious, the gestures usually have a positive impact not only on the people they benefit, but also on other people who meet the “happy” people.

Here are a few ideas for such small gestures:

  1. Make your colleagues happy with something you have baked yourself
  2. Smile at a stranger on the street – preferably one who seems to need it
  3. Clean out your wardrobe and donate the clothes – best bring them to the drop-off point in person
  4. Leave a book you have read on the train with the message: “Gift to the finder, have fun reading it”.
  5. Buy something at the bakery for yourself and for the person after you in the queue
  6. Write someone a “thank you” card
  7. Give a small sweet to the postman
  8. Express your gratitude
  9. Give sincere compliments
  10. Buy a ticket for public transport and leave it in the machine
  11. Buy a lottery ticket and stick it under the windscreen wipers of a particularly rickety car
  12. Buy a few bars of good chocolate and put them in the neighbourhood letterboxes
  13. Write a positive review about a place or bar you liked
  14. Donate old bedding and towels to an animal shelter.

I’m sure you have many more great ideas!
You can also get inspired under the hashtag #randomactsofkindness.

How about having a RAK-et day every week?
A day on which you do something good?

Pass it on!


PS: and don’t forget to include yourself in the circle of people you regularly do something good for 🙂

The power of sleep

Photo: Pixabay

Often we don’t even need a textbook or scientific studies – it’s enough to take a look at our use of language. Language contains a lot of wisdom and knowledge. In my search for a common thread for this article on sleep, two phrases first came to mind: “to be asleep” and “to have to sleep on something”.

In both idioms, sleep stands for a better, mental performance: if you are called well-rested, you have an alert mind, you can’t be fooled. When we have to sleep about something, we hope that the time we gain away from the matter or the subconscious processing in the meantime will enable us to make better decisions, for example.

Both of these things also apply to sleep in reality. It helps our mind to process what we have experienced, to “file away” knowledge and to create new connections, and it helps our body to regenerate.

Sleep is a bit like breathing. Both functions are vital for us, both are there as a matter of course (although many a good, restful sleep has been lost in the stress). As the saying goes: “it deprived me of sleep”) – and both are often underestimated in their effect on our well-being and health-promoting effect.

How well do you listen to your body’s signals? When you are tired and have the chance, do you take a nap? Or do you go to bed earlier? Or do you sometimes ignore tiredness because you want to do that one more thing? Do you know the phenomenon of craving sweets when you get tired? Do you reach for the chocolate or the duvet?

It’s clear that sleep and stress have some kind of interaction. If we have too much stress and don’t manage to switch off or get away from it, we often have trouble sleeping. (For example, I have the feeling that the first thing I wake up in the morning is my head. Eyes open and bam, I have the To Do list in my head. I like to say “my processor is already running before I have booted up my body ;-)”). Less sleep, on the other hand, has a negative effect on our stress tolerance – we lose our composure more quickly.

But what can I do to break this cycle? Let’s answer a few basic questions:

What are the consequences of too little sleep?

poorer brain capacity – expressed in less ability to concentrate and less creativity
faster ageing process
Weight gain because of increased appetite (malaise and lack of energy due to too little sleep is compensated for by increased appetite; this is promoted by the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for our feeling of hunger)
Deterioration of blood sugar levels
Risk of high blood pressure
Weakened immune system – more frequent illnesses
States of exhaustion
Increased risk of burnout
How much sleep do you need?

Scientific studies generally speak of 7-8 hours. It has also been proven that less than six hours of sleep per night can lead to exhaustion in the long run. The best way to find out how much sleep you need is to take a few days off or go on holiday. Follow your body’s signals and go to bed when you get tired. Make sure you have created the conditions for a good night’s sleep (see below) and don’t set an alarm. Observe when you wake up on your own the next day and feel ready to get up. After a few days you will notice that it is always a similar number of hours – your personal sleep need.

What contributes to good sleep?

How well you sleep depends on many different factors, of course, and is determined throughout the day. Basically, a healthy lifestyle (exercise, healthy food, plenty to drink and breaks throughout the day) is very beneficial. In addition, you can pay attention to the following:

Digital Detox

Photo: Pixabay

I have to admit: somehow I get tired of social media every now and then. This usually happens at times when I’m sitting in front of screens of all kinds quite a lot due to my job situation. Not really my thing.
Takes a while to “tame my mind” and tune into a task – and then I don’t have sitting power for long.
I prefer to be outdoors, in motion, with people in nature or in event spaces – and implement what I have planned. For about two years now, however, 80% of the implementation has also been taking place in front of the screen.
On the one hand, I am very grateful for this opportunity – after all, I can continue to give training and coaching sessions – without any location limits!
However, I notice how screen fatigue sets in at regular intervals.

Everything happens in front of screens – laptop, mobile phone, tablet, TV… They are a to-do list, advertising platform, connection to friends, computer, camera, alarm clock, news source, book, radio …
One hour without looking at it – 45 messags in all possible channels scream for attention!

If current studies are to be believed, I’m not alone:
According to a Forsa study, Germans reach for their smartphones between 60 and 100 times a day on average and are active on the screen for almost three and a half hours. On top of that, statistically speaking, they spend the same amount of time on a laptop, PC or tablet, plus another four hours watching TV. All in all, that’s a good eleven hours a day! And the trend is rising.

And apart from the continuous sprinkling and thus “distraction from the here and now”, this also has other effects. On one hand, the reports and opinions and news are very nerve-racking and emotionally demanding. On the other hand, we seem to have no time left for balancing activities – going outside, enjoying nature and some fresh air, going for a walk, taking a nap, doing sports ….

For a moment I hesitated – can I afford this? A week of very reduced posting and commenting?
After all, social media is important for the self-employed for marketing and visibility.
But the decision was quickly made: YES!
You should always afford a break and distancing yourself – otherwise we’re just driven !
It’s better to do nothing than to comment unmotivated and scroll through the feeds and threads like a “digital zombie”.

So then – what can I say – it felt good!
I was much more productive and I’m looking forward to my upcoming posts next week.

Maybe you would like to take some digital time out or check your “information management”?
Here are a few tips:

  • Reality check: How long do you sit in front of screens each day? How often do you reach for your mobile phone? There are apps that measure your screen time on your mobile phone – try them out to get a starting point.
  • Source check: From which sources do you get your information? (News etc.) How often a day? How do you feel about it emotionally? What could you change to feel better?
  • Dedicated social media times: When do you check your feeds and threads on social media? Do you always check in between and then stay longer than planned? Consider setting up fixed times in the day for this – e.g. 1x in the morning, 1x in the afternoon, 1x in the evening.
  • Planned offline times: Allow yourself (and your devices ;-)) offline times – e.g. between 10 pm and 8 am. Set yourself offline rules, e.g. don’t put your mobile next to your bed and allow your mind “input-free” time in the morning after waking up before you reach for your device.
  • Complete detox: Maybe you even dare to go completely offline one day a week or for a longer period of time? Let your contacts know beforehand so they don’t worry and then – enjoy the peace and the regained time!

And now: switch off, go out, enjoy nature!

Take care, Birgit

Embracing Mistakes

Photo: Pixabay

“Mistakes are learning opportunities”
“I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela
“You learn from your mistakes, so one is not enough.” – Wilhelm Busch

Blah Blah. The list could go on and on. There are many clever sayings about mistakes.
But honestly: how do you deal with mistakes? With your own mistakes and those of others?

When you really screwed up, you think, “Great, makes me smarter”?
If so, congratulations.
If not, you’re not alone.
Getting angry about mistakes is normal – however, our emotional reaction should not be the main focus and thus get in the way of the potential learning opportunity.

So what can you do to develop a healthy approach to mistakes?

  1. Doing – “Doing” is the keyword. Get into action. That is the first step. Some people try so hard to make sure that they are safe, they consider every possibilit in order to make no mistakes – that in the end they really don’t make any – because they don’t move to action. That’s the “error avoidance paralysis”. Not very helpful.
  2. Look behind the scenes – Mistakes are part of life. Evolution is not possible without mistakes. When we are shown “successful people” we are only presented the shining result – of an often not so dazzling journey. Most successful people have failed several times and made mistakes. If there is someone you admire, read his/her biography and expect to be surpised.
  3. Allow recognition of mistakes (inner world) – If we have not had a good approach to mistakes, it is possible that we have developed a certain blindness towards our mistakes (denial, forgetting, filtering, playing down). Sometimes this is also due to a lack of self-esteem. We can re-strengthen our awareness by e.g. reviewing the day in the evening and writing down if we have messed up. Please don’t get me wrong here: this is not about desperately looking for something you did wrong or blaming yourself for it – it’s simply allowing a factual statement that you did something wrong (if there was anything). Make your peace with it. For this it can also be helpful not to suppress your emotions connected with the mistake, but to allow and accept them in a protected environment – without directing them against you or others. The simple labelling of the emotion associated with the mistake is often enough (“I am angry”).
  4. Admit mistakes (external world) – take responsibility in the outside world and stand by your actions when you have done something wrong. No justifications, no blame, no whitewashing or trivialising.
  5. Celebrate mistakes – Have you ever laughed about your mistakes? It will get easier if you develop an easier way of dealing with your mistakes. Talk about it with friends, share the experience – and help others to deal with their mistakes more easily as well.
  6. Make use of your mistakes – take the time and have a look – what happened and why? Usually there are many different reasongs why mistakes happen to us:
    • Ignorance – what else should you learn?
    • Lack of trust – how can you strengthen it?
    • Fear of the consequences – real or self-made? How can you mitigate it?
    • Carelessness – how can you gain more focus?
    • Lack of motivation – why were you not motivated?

By the way, how hard we treat others when they have made mistakes often reflects how hard we treat ourselves.
This way we create a vicious circle: the pressure we put on others increases the likelihood of errors.
So – start to soften.

Take it playfully and wisely!


PS: remaining typos in this text are (no) intention 😉