Make More Mistakes – Advice From a Motivational Speaker

Womens-leadership-speaker-Colette-CarlsonHuh?  You may think a motivational speaker who encourages making mistakes needs to scout a new career, but here’s what I’ve discovered. Screwing up is the fastest way to get where you want to go.

For example, one of my first jobs out of college was as a marketing assistant.  Responsibilities included creating the monthly newsletter which meant writing, editing, collecting pictures, typing it up on my Selectric (this may be a Wikipedia moment for you youngsters), getting it to the printers, signing off on the proof and mailing 5,000 copies to clients.  Imagine my horror when I get a call from the home office letting me know I had misspelled the Chairman of the Board’s name on the front cover….in bold….right below his picture. Yikes!

Boy had I screwed up AND it was one of the best things that could have happened. Why?

1.    Made me work harder. In the future I proofed every page as if my life depended on discovering a misplaced comma.  As a result my supervisors were thrilled work left the building with such attention to detail.
2.    Gave me courage. Even though my hand was shaking, I picked up the phone and called the Chairman to apologize directly. He was very gracious and it taught me the lesson of stepping up and owning a mistake as soon as it’s discovered.
3.    I learned to forgive. Back then I was the type of person who could spend eternity beating myself up for a mistake. I’d think about it all day long, go to bed thinking about it and still be thinking about it when the alarm went off the next day.  Only through screwing up did I learn how to be kinder to myself and let things go. More importantly, it helped me learn to do the same for others. When a colleague forgets our appointment or my teenager runs out of gas, I’m less quick to judge and more likely to forgive and move forward.

Failing at a work task, a relationship or simply screwing up and locking your keys in the car are all moments loaded with opportunity to grow. Sure in the moment it’s painful, but that’s usually where incredible change begins.


Step into the Truth Booth, improve your life, and laugh along the way with funny motivational speaker Colette Carlson. How did she go from emotional coward and the Pizza Delivery’s favorite customer to #1 sales producer for sales legend Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy, featured in Success Magazine, a 50 lb. weight loss, and inspiring audiences at Microsoft, Accenture, Pepsi, Boeing, and organizations worldwide? Visit her at or call 760-230-1212.

Colette founded Speak Your Truth, Inc. to share her success systems and inspire others to Think It! Speak It! Live It! Her tools and takeaways create authentic, long-lasting change in every aspect of your life. With a MA in human behavior, a successful business and 2 teenage daughters, Colette provides a unique combination of education, research, real-life experience, and heartfelt humor to motivate you with her high content programs. Improve your Communication Skills, Work-Life Balance, Sales, Leadership, Assertiveness, Negotiation…all wrapped in the genuine power of Speaking Your Truth.

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  1. Awesome post Colette! And if making mistakes makes you successful – well no wonder my dreams are coming true! And, yes, even motivational speakers make mistakes!

    I remember the time I ran my father’s company (okay, so I also had to make coffee and take out the trash – but still) and I realized I had forgotten to charge sales tax for an entire month! And the time our copy machine broke and I had to take our copies to the printer and he accidentally added an extra zero, so instead of $50 he charged me $500. And I didn’t even blink an eye! And the time I peeked into my father’s office and calmly informed him that I had a lost a cherry red Lee Press On fingernail – thumb nail to be exact – and if he found it would he please let me know? I said it was probably in the file cabinet, but I could not say for certain. Or the time I was a sales person for a temporary service, and went to call on a customer – and went in with all four Lee Press On’s – but came out with nine. Yup. One fingernail was inadvertently left in his office. I didn’t get that sale.

    I could go on and on but I’m starting to depress myself.

  2. Oh yes, Colette! You are NOT the only motivational speaker, trainer, office work, boss, WHOMEVER, who has made some PHENOMENAL mistakes. But boy you sure did step up and turn it into a very positive thing. GREAT post!

  3. Oh thank you Colette! As someone who recurrently screws up, I’m experiencing plenty of opportunities for growth :-) That said, I’m learning to look for and appreciate these opportunities (I’ll be sure to bring your suggestions in mind as they arise) as my default setting is not to do anything until I’m sure I’ll get it “right” … which can lead to me not taking the action I should take for fear of “screwing up.” Here’s to finding opportunities to work harder, finding courage and learning to forgive!

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