Failures and Mistakes – Owning & Learning From Them

Apologies for the last-minuteness of this HCLDR blog post…

Tonight on our the weekly HCLDR tweetchat, I thought it would be interesting to discuss mistakes and failures – specifically how we can own them and learn from them.

I should clarify, that when I say “mistake” I’m not necessarily referring to medical errors or adverse events where patients are harmed. I know we would all love to be in an environment where physicians and healthcare organizations could openly apologize for these types of things, but the litigious nature of our society prevents that kind of action.

The mistakes I’m referring to are ones of leadership, of judgement, and of decision-making.

I just wrote about one particular failure from my past which ended up being a very expensive fiasco. It came at a time when I (and the Marketing Team I was part of) was riding high with a slew of recent success. We took on a project that was beyond our capabilities, but I didn’t see it at the time. I became obsessed with the project and ignored the signs that it was time to cut bait.

I definitely learned from that failure, but it wasn’t until the event was well into the rearview mirror. Same with “owning it”. At the time, I don’t think I fully accepted ownership of the failure – which speaks to my leadership inexperience at the time. It wasn’t until years later that I resolved things in my mind and could accept how much of the failure rested on me.

HCLDR friend Abner Mason @abnermason sent me Twitter-kudos for having “the guts to own and discuss this decision”. I felt it would be disingenuous of me to fully accept these kudos because at the time I made the errors in judgement, I don’t think I owned up to it. Another failure of mine at the time.

Abner’s tweet is actually the inspiration for tonight’s tweetchat. I’d like to hear from the community how we can own our mistakes and failures when they happen, instead of years later…or if it does take time before a failure can be fully accepted and “owned”.

Join me at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will discuss the following:

  • T1 Share a failure/mistake from your past and what lesson you learned.
  • T2 Can you truly “own” a failure immediately after it happens? Or does it require time before you can fully accept and own a failure?
  • T3 As a leader, is there anything you can do in the middle of a failure/mistake to help the situation?
  • T4 In healthcare mistakes and failures can be deadly – which means we don’t like to talk about them very much. What mechanisms have you seen to be effective at getting people to open up about mistakes?


Toren, Matthew. “3 Ways Owning Your Mistakes Will Make You Powerful”, Entrepeneur, 14 March 2014,, accessed 7 September 2021

Daskal, Lolly. “4 Impressive Ways Great Leaders Handle Their Mistakes”, Inc, 23 April 2018,, accessed 7 September 2021

Gallo, Amy. “You’ve Made A Mistake. Now What?”, Harvard Business Review, 28 April 2010,, accessed 7 September 2021

“How To Manage Anxiety When Owning A Mistake At Work”, Forbes, 28 March 2019,, accessed 7 September 2021

Image Credit

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

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