The Magnifying Glass of Errors: How to Stop Focusing on Our Mistakes at Work and Start Celebrating Our Successes

As I reflect on the rollercoaster of my life, I can’t help but notice a recurring theme: my tendency to undervalue my wins and overanalyze my tiniest mistakes at work. It’s as if my mind has a magnifying glass for errors and a blindfold for achievements. We all do this, right? Why do we do this?

I invite you to join me on an exploration of this self-limiting behavior, where I illustrate how this peculiar inclination has influenced me. Together, we will uncover the roots of this phenomenon and explore ways we can break free from this self-limiting pattern.

In undergrad, I mustered the courage to take a sculpture class. I spent countless hours pouring my heart into each piece, and to my surprise, the response from the professor and my peers was overwhelmingly positive. People admired my work, and some even wanted to purchase it. However, instead of feeling proud and accomplished, I couldn’t help but notice the tiny flaws in each piece. My mind fixated on these imperfections, causing me to dismiss the praise and undermine my artistic abilities.

In class one day, I overheard a conversation between two of my classmates that I considered “real artists”, discussing my artwork. They marveled at the emotions conveyed through my sculptures, appreciating the rawness and authenticity. That moment was an eye-opener. I realized that my self-critical lens had prevented me from seeing the beauty and impact my art had on others. From that day forward, I made a promise to myself – to celebrate my pieces and embrace the imperfections that make my art uniquely mine.

I know that I’m not the only woman who struggles with this. We are often taught to be humble and modest and to never brag about our accomplishments. But this can backfire, leading us to undervalue our own worth.

We also have a tendency to be our own worst critics. We focus on our mistakes and shortcomings, and we magnify them out of proportion. This can make it difficult to see our successes and to appreciate our own strengths.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can learn to overcome this self-limiting behavior and start to celebrate our wins. Here are a few tips:

mistakes at work

Why Do We Undervalue Our Wins? 

  1. Self-Doubt: Deep down, we may doubt our abilities and question whether we truly deserve the recognition and success we achieve. The fear of being an imposter gnaws at our confidence.
  1. Fear of Vulnerability: Embracing our wins requires vulnerability, as it means acknowledging our achievements and allowing ourselves to feel proud. It’s easier to protect ourselves from potential criticism by downplaying our successes.
  1. External Validation: If we heavily rely on external validation for our self-worth, it becomes challenging to internalize our successes. Without validation from others, we may feel like our achievements are not worthy.

overanalyze mistakes at work


Why Do We Overanalyze Our Mistakes?

  1. Perfectionism: The desire to be perfect in all aspects of life can lead us to obsess over every little mistake, no matter how inconsequential. We set impossibly high standards for ourselves, leaving no room for error.

2. Cognitive Bias: Our minds have a tendency to focus more on negative experiences, making mistakes stand out in our memories. We replay them like a broken record, overshadowing any positive aspects of the situation.

embrace wins at work

Overcoming the Pattern

  1. Gratitude Practice: Cultivate a daily gratitude practice to celebrate even the smallest wins. Write down your achievements and relish the journey that led you there. Embrace the idea that success is not a destination but a collection of meaningful moments.
  2. Embrace Vulnerability: Allow yourself to be vulnerable and accept praise and recognition with an open heart. Recognize that it’s okay to feel proud of your accomplishments. Share your journey with others, and in doing so, inspire them to embrace their own.
  3. Emphasize Growth: Shift your focus from seeking perfection to valuing growth and learning. Mistakes are part of the learning process and offer valuable lessons for improvement. Acknowledge that without mistakes, there can be no progress.
  4. Positive Self-Talk: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths and capabilities. Acknowledge that mistakes do not define you; rather, they are stepping stones on the path to success.

A few months ago, I was invited to speak as a panelist about a subject I am passionate about. As I prepared my speech, I was excited about the opportunity to share my knowledge and insights. On the day of the event, the virtual platform was filled with attentive participants. Despite receiving positive feedback afterward, my mind replayed the moments when my voice trembled slightly or when I stumbled over a word. I couldn’t fully appreciate the impact of my participation because of these minor glitches.

However, when I received emails, texts, and phone calls from attendees expressing how my talk had inspired them, I realized that my focus had been misplaced. The genuine connection I made with the audience and the positive change I sparked mattered far more than the minor slip-ups. It was then that I understood the importance of acknowledging my wins and the positive influence they can have on others.

As I draw the curtains on this introspective journey, I hope you find yourselves equipped with newfound insights and a resolve to rewrite the narrative of your lives. Our tendency to undervalue our wins and overanalyze our mistakes has held us back for far too long, preventing us from fully embracing the richness of our experiences. Remember that life and career are not a competition or a race against perfection. It is a series of ups and downs, of growth and learning, of wins and mistakes, that creates our unique existence.

Embracing our wins with gratitude and learning from our mistakes with humility are transformative steps toward a more fulfilling and compassionate relationship with ourselves. The journey of self-acceptance is not one without challenges, but it is through these very challenges that we find the courage to soar. So, as we bid farewell to the shadows of self-doubt and step into the light of self-celebration, let us remember that every moment is a canvas on which we paint the masterpiece of our lives. For it is in embracing the journey – wins and mistakes alike – that we discover the essence of our true selves.

So, to all the women out there who are struggling with this, I want to say: you are not alone. We all have this tendency, but we can overcome it. Let’s start celebrating our wins and embracing our imperfections. Together, we can create a more positive and supportive environment for ourselves and for each other.

I hope this gives you hope and inspires you to start celebrating your wins and learning from your mistakes. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. We all have the capacity to overcome our self-limiting beliefs and create a more fulfilling life for ourselves.

Valerie Minor

Valerie Minor

Wellness Promoter

Valerie’s love for storytelling and writing started in her early teens when she bought her first guitar and started writing lyrics. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Judson College and a Master of Science from the University of Alabama and found her purpose for 13 years as a police communications officer. It was during this time she gained firsthand insight into how cumulative trauma and stress in the workplace hinders well-being.

Presently, Valerie works in the employee wellness field and pursues writing in her free time for sites such as Introvert, Dear, 911der Women, Inc., Medium, Girlboss Burnbook, and her own newsletter, inkWell, blending her passion for writing, her different experiences of workplace culture, and her dedication to the well-being of individuals and organizations. Through writing and storytelling, she endeavors to empower others to thrive on their life journeys.