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Over the course of my career I have
developed my own formula for dealing
with my mistakes, and I hope this may
be useful to you as well:
1. Recognition: Recognize and ac-
cept that working in accounting or
tax will inevitably lead to some type of
mistake. We are not machines. (I am
not suggesting that we act carelessly;
we should always do our best work.)
2. Admission and disclosure: It is im-
portant to honestly admit and disclose
a mistake early to someone in your
department or company that may be
affected by the mistake. This is prob-
ably the most difficult step. Admission
often emotes fear of the potential con-
However, once I've admitted and dis-
closed the mistake, I have found my
fear dissipates and allows someone
else to view the situation with a fresh
perspective and a cooler head. This
also allows the corrective process to
begin and permits others to help solve
the problem. This step begins the re-
demptive process for recovery and for-
giving yourself.
3. Emotional regrouping: The pain of
fear or embarrassment must be over-
come as quickly as possible. Don't ask
yourself, "Am I really qualified for this
work?" Instead, ask yourself, "What
have I learned from this mistake and
how can I do better going forward?"
I usually allow myself no more than a
day or two to reflect on what I have
learned and to reassure myself that the
mistake was only a bump in the road.
The key is to get back to work as soon
as possible.
4. Bravely face the consequences:
Many mistakes are repairable with little
material effect. However, if the mis-
take is consequential, it is important
to accept your share of the blame and
not blame others. This is what makes
us professional. This is an important
phase in the healing process.
5. Personal development, learning,
and improvement: It has been said
that the true character of a person
is revealed not when things are go-
ing great, but when things are going
wrong. Use a mistake to show your
good character, learn from it, improve
your skill set, and, most importantly,
keep moving forward.
Stay physically and mentally healthy.
Our profession sometimes places great
demands on our time and can upset
our work-life balance. This can exact a
price on both our physical and mental
wellbeing. The work can be stressful
and can require long hours at our desk.
Find time for physical activity that will
promote good health. I should know I
suffered a heart attack while at work in
part from not taking care of myself.
In addition, and just as important,
learning to effectively deal with stress
can improve the quality and longevity
to your life. Managing stress has al-
ways been a struggle for me; I am still
I had an intense focus on technical job
skills when I began working in this pro-
fession. I have experienced success
in my career. However, if I had equally
focused on some of the personal de-
velopment concepts presented above,
I believe that success would have ar-
rived much earlier in my career. I hope
some of this advice will help you focus
on your personal development to en-
hance your success along your own
career journey.
Paul N. Iannone, JD, CPA, MST is a
tax professional and the founder of
Tax Career Advisor, LLC. He is the
author of Extraordinary Tax Career,
available on Tax Ca-
reer Advisor provides customized ca-
reer coaching for tax and accounting
professionals and consulting to CPA
firms and corporations.
Paul can be reached at 203-806-0865
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