It can happen to all of us. Sometimes you make a mistake on the job, a complete fool of yourself in a presentation, or get overly emotional with your boss. Often, there’s no way around it and you just end up sucking. You may find solace in hiding under your desk wondering what just happened, which is obviously the only thing that can hide your red face. It’s rough, right?

I get it. Yes, desk hiding is all well and good for about five minutes. However, it isn’t exactly the most professional choice. It certainly won’t do much to help you solve your professional mishaps. Actually, you’d have a much better chance at countering your flops if you get up from under that desk, sit down in your big comfy office chair, and figure out what you’re going to do about your mishap immediately, if not sooner.


When you’re ready to come out of hiding, check out these four steps to turning professional fumbles into confidence boosting experiences:

1. Accept that you made a mistake

Acceptance is the worst, am I right? You just end up replaying that bad speech or the way you tripped over yourself in front of your CEO over and over. It’s like a horrible review in The New York Times; you just can’t shake it from your brain.

Here’s the hard truth: We have to accept when we make these mistakes. Look, we’ve all spilled something on ourselves in front of someone important. We’ve all said the wrong things on a vital conference call. We’ve all looked totally unprofessional at one time or another. And that’s OK. The important thing is to accept that we’ve made mistakes and understand something has to be done about it. Got it? Great. Moving on.

2. Create a game plan for fixing it

How are you going to counter your professional fumble? The easiest way is to create a plan for fixing it. Let’s say you used some dated information in a weekly report and your boss called you on it. You initially feel like a complete idiot, but after you get over that inner groveling stage we talked about, you may want to list some ways you can do better in the future.

Own up. How about sitting down with your boss and explaining why you used the wrong numbers? You may say you could get someone to double-check your work or go through a better system of checks and balances. Whatever you decide, creating a game plan for your errors can help your boss to see that you didn’t do it on purpose and that you are creating the steps necessary to really nail it next time.

3. Confidence, confidence, confidence

You’ve heard that phrase “it’s easier said than done,” before, right? Well, sitting down with your boss to essentially say, “this is why I was bad at my job that one time,” isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. In fact, I’d wager you’d rather not address the problem at all. That’s where our little friend confidence comes in—because without confidence, you may as well go back under that desk. However, to get the job done, you have to believe you can actually do it.

Yes, you used the wrong numbers in your report, which may have led to a slew of other problems. You’re embarrassed and understandably so. Regardless, you have to face the repercussions. In this particular example, it means sitting down with your boss to discuss the incident. You have to believe that you deserve the chance to redeem yourself and prove you have the ability to be better next time.

To get there, you need confidence. Don’t have the moxie you need? Well, borrow some from somebody else until you grow your own. Nod your head, say you can be a weekly report rock star, and gain a little gusto. You really have nothing else to lose.

4. Move forward

To this point, getting over your professional fumbles was all talk. You’ve accepted that you made a mistake. You’ve created a plan to get over that mistake. You’ve gained the confidence to address your mistake. Now what? How about actually moving forward with your plan?

Few people, especially women, actually follow-through with what they want. Well, you’ve gotten to this point. Why not just go for it? You could continue to wallow in self-pity or you could move forward with your plan and get the ball rolling. What’s it gonna be?

Have that meeting and gain some valuable takeaways from it. While I know you’re probably scared, you have to rip that bandage off and be brave. Be dynamic, be audacious, be bold. In the end, moving forward is all you can do if you want to solve a professional ‘oopsie.’ Here’s a little secret: You probably want to be a problem-solver instead of a problem-hider.

Yes, professional flops and fumbles are unfortunate. However, if you take the steps necessary to fix these flops, I promise you, from one former desk hider to another, you’ll be in a much better shape than you were before.

What do you think? What are some other ways to turn professional flops into positives?

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