The Mistakes That Make Us

The Mistakes That Make Us

How Getting Things Wrong Can Make It Right — For Leaders and Organizations

About the Book

I'm writing a book that's inspired by the stories and lessons from the people I've interviewed in my podcast series called "My Favorite Mistake."

That book cover shown above is completely just a mockup / prototype. I won't make the mistake of trying to really do the book cover myself.


Everybody makes mistakes, but the most successful people (and companies) learn from those mistakes, Mark Graban explains in The Mistakes That Make Us. Individuals often say, “We learn the most from our failures,” but many organizations have unreasonable (and counterproductive) expectations of perfection. It’s better to expect to make mistakes — we’re all human — and react constructively in a way that turns them into stepping stones to success. 

Many entrepreneurs say we should “fail early, fail often.” It’s better to, instead, “fail early, learn, and be more likely to succeed.”

Drawing on his “My Favorite Mistake” podcast interviews of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other leaders from wide-ranging fields including healthcare, software, and professional sports, Graban illustrates how to:

  • Shift from shaming ourselves (or others) to learning and improving after mistakes
  • Take ownership of mistakes instead of blaming others
  • Avoid making the same mistake twice
  • Be proactive about trying to prevent mistakes, while realizing they might still happen
  • Stop saying with certainty, “we know that’s a great idea,” and, instead start recognizing and saying “we could be wrong”
  • Test ideas and assumptions in a way that mitigates risk
  • Embrace (and learn from) small mistakes so we avoid the catastrophic ones
  • Create a workplace culture where it’s safe for people to disclose mistakes, ensuring learning instead of coverups

Graban’s book shares compelling stories about how a culture of learning from mistakes, built upon psychological safety, means we can learn more and reach greater heights. As the subtitle says, “getting things wrong can make it right” — if we can lead with grace and humility.

About the Author

Mark Graban
Mark Graban

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, professional speaker, and blogger. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. For his full bio, visit

His latest book Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More: was initially published through LeanPub (now available through Amazon).

He is the author of the book Lean Hospitals, which was the first healthcare book selected for as a recipient of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award. Mark has also co-authored Healthcare Kaizen and was the editor of the anthology Practicing Lean, which was published through LeanPub.

Mark Graban

Episode 101

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