Let This Quote Coach You Through How to Overcome Mistakes

Adrian S. Potter
4 min readMar 1, 2024

Recognize, admit, learn, and forget.

Photo by Roman Koval: https://www.pexels.com/photo/make-mistakes-mug-15223238/

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

Dean Smith was an influential figure in American basketball, best known for his legendary tenure as the head coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels Men’s basketball team from 1961 to 1997.

Smith’s impact extended far beyond the basketball court. He was renowned for his innovative coaching strategies, including his emphasis on teamwork, discipline, and player development. Smith also played a pivotal role in promoting racial integration in college basketball, recruiting the first African-American scholarship athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His commitment to social justice and civil rights activism left a lasting legacy, earning him widespread admiration and respect.

As one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, Dean Smith’s influence continues to be felt not only in sports but also in broader society. His quote –

“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”

— outlines a wise approach to overcoming mistakes in life. Let’s break it down.

Recognize it:

The first step in dealing with a mistake is acknowledging its existence. This requires honesty and self-awareness. By recognizing a mistake, you’re taking ownership of it rather than denying or ignoring it.

Admit it:

Once you recognize the mistake, the next crucial step is admitting it. This involves humility and accountability. Owning up to an error means accepting responsibility for it, which can be difficult but essential for growth and learning.

Learn from it:

Mistakes offer valuable lessons if we are willing to learn from them. After admitting a mistake, it’s crucial to analyze it and understand why it happened. What led to the blunder? What could have been done differently? By learning from our screwups, we can gain insights that help us avoid repeating them in the future.



Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com