Growing Mindset: 5 Tips to Learn From Mistakes

Mistakes are a common part of our daily lives, whether they happen in our personal lives or at work. Usually, they come along with negative feelings, however, they can present us with opportunities to develop a growing mindset. In this article, we’ll try to help you change how you perceive your mistakes, in order to truly learn from them.

Everyone makes mistakes and tech professionals are no exception. Normally, when mistakes happen, we feel regret and react negatively towards the situation.

But, as Jo Boaler, an education author, described in her book Mathematical Mindset, when students with a growth mindset make a mistake, that mistake triggers “significant brain growth”. 

Therefore, if making mistakes triggers our “brain growth,” why do we feel bad about them?

Although we tend to see mistakes as something negative, it’s not the mistakes themselves that are bad. Let me explain it using an example from a movie.

In the movie Interstellar, a character called Murphy asks her dad, Cooper, about why her parents named her after a law that predicts that bad things will happen. Cooper’s answer was perfect: 

– “Murphy’s Law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen. What that means is that whatever can happen, will happen. And that sounded just fine to us.”


The same is true for mistakes. Making a mistake isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s our interpretation and how we act upon it that determine if it truly is a bad thing or not.

We never expect to make a mistake, so when it happens, our first reaction is to feel disappointed and frustrated with ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we need to associate the outcome with these initial feelings. When we perceive a mistake, how we act about it can help change our feelings regarding the entire situation. 

In this article, I’ll present some tips that can help change how you perceive your mistakes, allowing you to learn from them. 

1. Don’t Play the Blame Game

Working in a company usually means that a mistake isn’t the fault of only one person, but if you have a part in that problem, you should take full accountability for it. 

Don’t try to put your responsibility on something (or someone) else and embrace it. As I mentioned before, mistakes can trigger brain growth. However, if you trick your brain into accepting that it isn’t your fault, your brain will never trigger. 

Trying to blame something external leads to further discussions and might even create other problems. This eventually causes the team to lose focus from the initial problem. Instead, tell your leader about the situation and be clear about what part you are involved in. 

It is important to let people know your point of view on the problem. It can help you find a solution and learn from it to avoid some future mistakes. 

2. Put Yourself in a Better Mood 

Owning up to your failures often brings up feelings such as disappointment, stress, depression, or even a mix of them. These feelings are normal and facing them will help you grow, so try not to ignore them and take your time to process everything. 

But don’t allow them to put you in an infinitely bad mood. It won’t help you find a solution to your problem. Instead, try playing the aeroplane rule:

This rule says that when something bad happens, take care of yourself first, and only then try helping others.


In the context of this article, when a mistake happens, first, take care of your feelings and your mood, then you can start looking for a solution and helping others.

To look for a solution, you must also change your perspective. Instead of remaining disappointed, try finding some release and begin looking for ways to overcome your mistake.

Having a positive mindset is essential and something that you can practice and improve, take a look at this article to learn more about the topic.

3. Focus on How to Solve the Problem

– “Giants are not those who don’t fall, but those who stand up.” – Brazilian volleyball head coach Bernadinho, in his book “Transformando Suor em Ouro”.

Now is the time to be a giant. After getting into a great mindset, it’s time to stand up and find a solution to the problem. 

I recommend beginning by collecting as much information as possible. You can do this on your own, for instance, by trying to remember what led to the mistake. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • What was I trying to do or solve? – We don’t fail on purpose. The reason you failed is because you were trying to do or solve something and, somewhere along the way, you created a new problem. 
  • What is the impact of my mistake? – Depending on the impact of your mistake, you may need to take quicker actions. If you’re not able to fix everything at once, you can also try creating smaller solutions to mitigate the issue.
  • How much time do I have? – If you do not have much time, you should look for a quick and easy solution or ask for help.

These questions won’t always allow you to think of new solutions. Sometimes we’re so involved in our work that we need other perspectives to understand the problem. If you feel stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for some help, because the more time you waste, the bigger the problem will be. 

Sometimes, explaining the problem out loud to a coworker, for instance, is enough to give you some clarity on what went wrong and when, putting you in a better position to find the issue and come up with a potential solution.

If asking for help makes you uncomfortable, try the duck approach. This approach requires only a duck toy or any toy (I have Woody, for example). Talk to it as if it were a coworker and tell it all about the situation. This “conversation” might help bring some perspective to your problem.

4. The Growing Mindset 

After everything is solved, make sure to celebrate! It’s important to make every experience worth it and understand that there’s always something to learn.

Oftentimes, mistakes aren’t caused by a lack of knowledge, let me give you an example from my personal experience.

A few months ago, I was pushing myself to learn more about technology, so I started studying for long hours after work. I stopped taking time for simple walks or to hang out with friends. 

Then, I made a mistake at work and I couldn’t understand why. I had full control and knowledge of the project, so it couldn’t have happened due to my technical skills.

However, one day, instead of remaining in my room studying, I met my friends outside. This change in my routine made me reflect on how stressed I was and how that stress was affecting my routine.

That was the real cause of my mistake! I wasn’t taking care of my mental health and I was burned out. 

Sometimes, the cause of your mistakes will be a lack of knowledge and it’s alright not to know everything! Mistakes can put you on track to seek more knowledge, study more, and eventually grow professionally.

If this is the case for you, try looking into the technologies your project uses that you’re not familiar with yet. Anticipate having to work with them and make sure you learn more about them beforehand. This way, you can reduce the chances of making mistakes.

Also, remembering how you acted when faced with a problem can help you grow and improve when another mistake surfaces. Try asking yourself questions like:

  • How long have I been in a bad mood after uncovering my mistake? 
  • Did I calm down? 
  • Did I find the solution? 
  • How prepared was I to find the solution? 
  • What do I need to practice or learn to find the solution quicker and better?
  • What have I learned from all these situations?

These can help you reflect on the whole situation and get away from the feeling of regret. They’ll allow you to set an energy for learning and improving, instead.

5. Mistakes Don’t Define You

 – “You make your mistakes, your mistakes never make you.” – Mac Miller, Goodspeed

Back in the day, I didn’t have this mindset. Every time I made a mistake, it was stressful! I often thought that mistakes were a sign that I wasn’t capable enough, which led me to continuously punish myself for them.

I was able to find solutions then, but the feeling of regret always remained and I was never truly able to understand how to protect myself from the feeling of failure after making a mistake.

Eventually, I learned that the way I reacted to my mistakes was the real issue. I now know that mistakes don’t define me, they alert me that I need to improve in a particular area. Now I can look back at previous mistakes without regret and see them as learning opportunities.

I believe that this is the true growth mindset.

Growing Mindset, 5 Tips to Learn From Mistakes: Final Thoughts

It’s normal to make mistakes, and it’s normal to feel bad about them. However, if you begin perceiving them as opportunities to learn and grow, you will never live to regret them again, and you’ll also be quicker to solve new problems that might arise in the future.

We hope that with these tips and examples from my personal experience, you’ll be able to unlock your growth mindset, freeing yourself from the negative feelings that mistakes bring and embracing the situations as opportunities to learn and improve yourself.

See you in the next article!