Leaders are often told to maximise their “return on failure,” but so far there has been little focus on the specific steps one should take to learn from mistakes. Challenging yourself to use counterfactual thinking and formulate detailed alternative scenarios is one way to bridge that gap and ensure you do better the next time around.
This was not your best week. Something didn’t go right. Let’s say it was a negotiation that didn’t play out your way. What do you do afterward? You might go to a bar with friends, talk to your spouse, or call your mom. But those are just delay tactics. Soon the ruminating will begin. You’ll wonder what went wrong and blame yourself, others, or external factors. When that becomes exhausting, you’ll tell yourself that you need to forget the past and focus on what’s ahead. This is a natural and perfectly reasonable reaction, but it’s psychologically painful without much benefit. It won’t prevent you from experiencing the same kind of failure a second or third or fourth time.