Own your mistakes

Petr Zaparka
3 min readOct 23, 2020

Hiding under your blanket will not help.

Every time we make a mistake, we feel guilty. We feel like hiding it so no one can see it. And if no one can see it, our ego will be safe.

But we know this is not the right way. We need to accept it. We need to take a deep breath and say “it was my fault”. It doesn’t matter if we say it face to face or on Slack. The outcome is the same.

We need to take responsibility even if it wasn’t 100% our fault.

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer or more water or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. — Thich Nhat Hanh

It would take more time to find the fault elsewhere than just admitting a mistake. We have to face the consequences. We have to take ownership and do our best to fix it.

Do you think that others will think less of you if you admit a mistake? The opposite is true. People acknowledge that you are not hiding errors, and they will trust you even more.

Think about it. Would you trust someone who never takes responsibility for anything or someone who can face the “shame” of a failure?

The way how we face our mistakes is the key. Admitting them is part of the process. But we need to learn from them too.

Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. — Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM

Learning from our mistakes is the key to self-improvement. Did you forget to check the timing of feature release, so it doesn’t disrupt users? Put it on your release checklist for next time. Did you forget to run tests before releasing a feature? Create an automation process that will stop you from making the same mistake.

Lead the way, do not blame.

A blaming culture is one in which people are reluctant to speak out, take risks, or accept responsibility at work because they fear criticism, retribution, or worse. — Naomi Karten

Sometimes mistakes are made because we work in a company that has a “Culture of Blame”. It’s hard to change these cultures from the bottom up. But we can try. We show others that we care. We take responsibility, and we do not blame, and we do not criticize. We lead by example. And hopefully, others will join us.

I don’t know if admitting a mistake is the primary skill we must learn to become better at our craft. But I know we can’t get better without it.

Thank you for reading.



Petr Zaparka

I help developers to become more effecient and valuable so they can spend more time on things that matters to them.