Mistakes are Opportunities

I made a mistake this week.

I was introduced to a few dozen new people.

I attempted to correct the mistake.

I was introduced to more new people.

This mistake was a springboard instead of an anchor.

When you make a mistake, you learn who is listening.

You learn who is invested.

You learn what they want.

The positive ones want to help you and are in for the long haul.

The negative ones were never going to stick around anyway. No matter what you say or do, they’ll find fault.

Specific example: On Wednesday I e-mailed the wrong link to Steve’s e-mail list. The heads up emails started arriving immediately. I sent a correction e-mail. E-mails from almost a completely new set of individuals arrived.

They provided feedback, what they like/don’t like, their experiences with Steve’s work, the impact it has had on their own work, and so on. They provided value.

Whether you’re launching a book or a business, establishing a relationship with readers, customers, fans, etc., is important.

Of those relationships established with Steve and Black Irish Books, some of the greatest have come on the wings of mistakes.

I wouldn’t fake a mistake, but if one occurs, step up and address it, and then enjoy what follows. It’s extraordinary.

Posted in


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Mary Doyle on May 4, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Words of wisdom Callie – thanks!

  2. Wendy Sloneker on May 4, 2018 at 6:11 am

    That’s a great perspective – for personal & business aspects! Right on time, and much appreciated 🙂

  3. Sarrah October on May 4, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Mistakes are the building blocks for future success. Owning up to mistakes means you are ready for the success that follows. Thanks for being open and honest about mistakes and for sharing what you learned.

  4. Sandra on May 4, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Your posts motivate. They are the light at the end of the tunnel.

  5. Stephanie on May 4, 2018 at 6:25 am

    Awesome post, and a brilliant reminder for all of us. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  6. Joe Jansen on May 4, 2018 at 6:55 am

    And there are the affectionate observations that happen outside of earshot. My buddy “Ziebart” and I usually trade notes on Wednesdays and Fridays. “Did you see Steve’s today? Callie had a good one this week.” Etc.

    Exchange on Wednesday:

    “This serialization is great. I’m buying the book anyway.”
    “Did you see the link went to last week’s post?”
    “Do you think we should send her a note and tell her?”
    “Oh, I’m sure her inbox is getting carpet-bombed right now. She’ll probably send a follow-up in five, four, three, two…”
    “Never mind. There it is.”

    Yer awesome, you know it?

  7. Roma on May 4, 2018 at 7:13 am

    It’s sad how many lurkers there are out there waiting for the slightest misstep to judge or criticize so they can feel better about themselves. Mistakes are a great way of outing trolls ????

  8. Brian S. Nelson on May 4, 2018 at 7:36 am

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” TR.

    The Black Irish Books team members are the reincarnations of Teddy Roosevelt. I didn’t read the blog Wednesday morning because of an early requirement. I saw the 2nd email and was curious…when I read, “Ah, Crap I sent out the wrong link…” about 3-4 thoughts/emotions him me immediately.
    1. Gotta love Callie. She’s totally honest when she makes a mistake. I love it that she used crap.
    2. Who doesn’t have this blog marked as a favorite, and relies on the Callie’s email?
    3. I wonder what alerted her…must have been other readers. I hope they weren’t rude.
    4. Steve, Callie, and Shawn are so real.

    Below is the link to GEN Stan McChrystal’s TED talk from 2011. I really enjoy it. He also quoted “Gates of Fire” in his retirement speech. I’d follow this guy anywhere. It is a longer TED talk, but his last sentence completely affirms how you responded to this mistake.


    Have a great weekend.

  9. Bill on May 4, 2018 at 7:45 am

    To err is Human. To learn from it, Divine!

    Thanks for all you do, Callie.

  10. BarbaraNH on May 4, 2018 at 8:25 am

    You guys are the best, essential to so many of us! I just can’t imagine someone being nasty about it… what a waste of a life.
    Yes, Callie — thanks so much for all you do.

  11. Julie Murphy on May 4, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for showing us how it’s done. Good job, Callie.

  12. JF Murphy on May 4, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Callie, you guys do a great job every week. I have the book and I love the newsletters. Keep it up!

  13. Marv Waschke on May 4, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    In software development something called “Agile Development” is on the down slope of the hype cycle, which means it is now generally accepted and rapidly becoming yesterday’s news. The essence of Agile is to develop quickly in small steps and deliver these incremental results to customers immediately.

    It’s almost diametrically the opposite of the methodology I was taught decades ago: plan the entire project in detail, then build it exactly to plan, test it against the plan, then stage a great big stinking release. More often than not, “stinking” was the right adjective. Why? Because “testing against the plan” is flat out wrong. The plan doesn’t matter– it’s how the project strikes the customer that counts. And no matter how much effort you put into a plan, it never exactly matches the real world.

    Hard-earned experience has proven that the most direct and efficient route to a superior product is to to develop, test, and deliver in small increments and correct issues as they appear instead of letting them build up to a nuclear explosion like we used to drop on people in the old days.

    This is just a long-winded way of saying that “Mistakes are opportunities” has been proven and become engineering best practice in software after decades of putting off mistakes until a cataclysmic final fiasco. Funny how things are the same everywhere…

    • Matt Nightingale on May 7, 2018 at 5:38 am

      Great point. I think this has everything to do with how connected we are. You can connect with people everyday, multiple times per day, and they give you real time feed back.

      • Marv Waschke on May 12, 2018 at 7:42 am

        I think you have something there.

        Folks usually think technology changes like a train load of coal barrelling through a grade crossing, but on the technology freight train while developing software, technology is the fixed point where you happen to be when you write the code. The world is rushing by; you are standing still. When a project, even a tiny scrum, is ready for use, the world you wrote for is miles behind. You wrote in the prairies and you release in Chicago.

        Well, damn. You should have read the timetable. Yeah. The timetable was written by a babbling idiot in a cashmere hoodie. Fat lot of good that does. He thought we’d release in Shangri La. All you can do is toss your prairie baby out on the South Side and see how it fairs in Inglewood. If you take time to rewrite for Chicago, the train will be in west Texas by the time you are done. And you never moved from your spot on the technology train.

        And what is it the makes the world move so fast? The connectedness of it all. Good point.

  14. t martin on May 4, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    What it takes?… are more people like Callie. : )

  15. Matt Nightingale on May 7, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Mistakes are a golden opportunity. For most beginning stand-up comedians, crowd work is a major anxiety. I learned through an improv comedy course how to take a mistake and turn it into comedy. The improv instructor said “it’s better to say something than to say nothing”. So, now when I’m talking to someone from the stage, I just say the first thing that comes to my head in response. Sometimes it’s good. But, sometimes it’s dumb. In those cases, I just turn on myself and say “what a dumb thing I just said!”, and the crowd is usually on board with you.

    There’s also the broader observation that as we forge our path, our audience becomes more and more clear, which is a very good thought to hold onto when trying to forge a new path.

  16. Karen on May 8, 2018 at 4:38 am

    we all make mistakes and I think to acknowledge it just makes you more real and approachable.. and it’s almost a relief to see someone else do it too! haha
    We are all connected and it’s just a little reminder for everyone to lighten up 🙂

  17. Rafael Ronzoni on June 2, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Right on time to make me reflect about my mistakes. Thanks!

  18. Benjamin Tyler on January 31, 2022 at 6:45 am

    I heard a lot about Agile Development. One more interesting post about app development is this one that tells about multiplatform mobile app development cost and the cost of hiring a team of developers for that purpose. It is quite expensive, but the result can surprise even experienced developers.

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