Dr. Samuel Jones

Turn mistakes into success

3 steps to challenge yourself and find ways to make improvements.

December 10, 2019

As a college basketball player at the University of Southern Mississippi, Samuel Jones received the tip and had the opportunity for a game-opening dunk.

The problem?

He dunked the ball in the opposing team’s basket.

“Every time I make a mistake, it’s an opportunity for a turning point to success,” Jones told 370 attendees at the opening keynote of the CUNA Supervisory Committee and Internal Audit Conference in Las Vegas.

Jones, a speaker and award-winning entrepreneur, says there are three steps to turning mistakes—such as dunking the basketball in the opposing team’s basket—into turning points to success:

  1. Awaken to awareness. There are two types of awareness, Jones says, external, or how people see you and what they think of you, and internal, which is what you think of yourself and what you do. But awareness shouldn’t always be about yourself. Get feedback from others and use that information to improve yourself.

    Look for ways to see a situation through a fresh lens. Instead of just looking at results, look at the work you do and consider the role you play in the process and how it impacts the end result.

  2. Inspire to use your imagination. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Instead focus on what you do have.

    Finding ways to use your imagination often involves challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Take risks, which involves divergent thinking and normalizing failure. But it also involves collaboration and inclusion. By working with people who are different, you’ll be able to see things that you previously weren’t able to see.

    "We must inspire ourselves to use our imaginations,” Jones says. “See the work you do, but attach people to the work, because the work you do always impacts people.”

  3. Transform moments into a movement. Have an end goal but know you will have to work to achieve that goal and that each person will bring a different perspective to the process. Also realize that change is hard, and it will happen slowly in small steps.

    Experiment to find ways to learn faster and always make sure to have a purpose behind every action you take, Jones says.

“There are many people that you connect with and work with. Find a way to leave a legacy,” Jones says. “Don’t make light of the impact your work has on the people you serve.”