Mistakes are stepping stones to success.

It takes a lot of drive and ambition to be an artist. Sometimes, though, an overdose of this combination can lead to hazardous mistakes.

I learned this lesson about a decade ago when I burned a very important bridge with a huge record label…

I was over-the-top excited to be hired as a still photographer on a video set fir a known rapper. It was an opportunity to work with a prominent label and an amazing artist; not to mention getting some amazing photos to for my portfolio. AH-MAZING photos I got! In fact, I was so excited by the end of the shoot that I emailed the VP of marketing with some samples and a pitch to be considered as the head photographer for their new album artwork.

One small problem: The VP wasn’t my client. They hadn’t hired me to take the stills. I had just jumped over my client’s head, which I learned was a huge “no no”. Needless to say, I got an earful the next day from New York and wasn’t hired again by the label for about 3 years; and I deserved it.

It was an honest mistake. If I would have paused for a moment to consider my action, it never would have happened.

As creative professionals in the beauty industry, we know that everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone knows how to own up to them. Knowing how to address your mistakes is important to regain control of situations gone awry, and sometimes even make them better.

Here’s a straightforward four-step formula to communicate a mistake in a professional situation…

1. Be timely

Don’t wait to speak up, and don’t isolate yourself. The sooner you communicate a mistake, the more responsible you come across to everyone involved. Procrastinating usually complicates the situation, and will only make you (and others) more anxious.

2. Be clear

Communication is essential. Explain—don’t excuse—the mistake.  You don’t have to list details of why the mistake happened, just make sure you are upfront about the situation you are facing.

3. Be proactive

This is the most important part of the formula: always come to the table with a thought-out solution to the problem. Every mistake is an opportunity to do something different than what you originally intended, which is sometimes even better. This is a chance for you to think on your feet, experiment, and create.

Photo by Kate Szatmari, Makeup by Samantha Nicholls

Photo by Kate Szatmari, Makeup by Samantha Nicholls

4. The fortune is in the follow-up

Reach out to those affected by the initial mistake to find out how they feel about the situation, once resolved. This is an opportunity to gather feedback, and to once again demonstrate care and responsibility. It is also an opportunity to see how well your solution worked. 🙂

Remember: practice makes perfect, and practice is preparation. We want you to be prepared for anything, mistakes and all, so that you can make the most of every step you take. 🙂

And don’t fret! We all make mistakes. As long as we learn from them and do our absolute best not to repeat them, we succeed.