Mistakes are the best teachers. You would be clueless without them. Mistakes are also innate sources of wisdom that you acquire at birth and continue to make throughout life. How else would you know how to walk if you never fell down and figured out how to pick yourself up again?
Yet somewhere along the winding path of life, mistakes got a bad rap. They became evil, mental monsters that make you feel like a loser. And it’s true mistakes can choke you until you cannot breathe; just the thought of a possible failure can cause emotional paralysis. But okay, maybe you’re disappointed, embarrassed, or ashamed, so what? Pick yourself up, shake it off, and realize you just learned a valuable lesson that will sustain you for the rest of your life.
Here are 20 reasons why not making mistakes could be a huge mistake:
1. You lose the experience.
You need to experience what doesn’t work. That’s how science experiments and research are conducted. When you do apply this in your life, the results of the experience stick. They enter your subconscious and stay there. If you don’t make a mistake, you cannot learn.
2. You can’t reach the top without them.
Mistakes are building blocks, each one laying the foundation for future success. As Mark Cuban said, “With every effort, I learned a lot. With every mistake and failure, not only mine, but of those around me, I learned what not to do.”
3. You stop the clock.
Success doesn’t happen overnight (except in viral videos). It takes time, and during that time lots of things go wrong. Kiss success good-bye if you are afraid to try new things and make mistakes!
4. You listen to the negative voices in your head.
If you give in the negative attitude, of “I can’t, I’m afraid to fail,” say hello to a boring life.
5. You stagnate and underachieve.
Nothing good can happen unless you are willing to make mistakes. Follow your bliss.
6. You listen to the negative comments of other people and let them rule your future.
Naysayers are always ready and waiting to squash your dreams. Allowing negative comments to rule your choices interferes with your forward motion. As an example, you can thank angry chef George Crum for our all-time favorite snack, the potato chip. George lost his temper when a customer sent back a plate of fried potatoes because they weren’t cooked enough. Insulted, he cut the potatoes thin, crisped them until they were almost burnt, and then heavily salted them. He sent them back out to the customer thinking they would hate them, but instead, culinary history was made. Thank you George!
7. You miss the chance to become strong.
You never will know just how strong you are until you have the opportunity to recover from a mistake.
8. You miss the chance to become wise.
Again, you will never know how smart and clever you are, until you work through a mistake, then bounce back, and grow from it.
9. You expect perfection.
Things are never perfect. Life is imperfect. All of life is a series of mistakes.
10. You become a quitter, not a winner.
If you let one mistake control you, you set a pattern of giving in. Bill Gates remarked, “We didn’t miss cell phones, but the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. So it’s clearly a mistake.” He didn’t let it stop him from becoming a gazillionaire from his other endeavors though.
11. You will never learn anything if you don’t learn from your mistakes.
Just because things didn’t work out, doesn’t mean something good didn’t come from it. Wonderful things can happen from mistakes. For example, Percy Spencer realized that the candy bar in his pocket had melted when he was conducting a radar-related research project. He then tried it on popcorn, and gave us the oh-so-helpful microwave oven.
12. You let your negative emotions control your destiny.
You allow negativity to live in your head. You can never achieve happiness if negative emotions rule your life.
13. You think what happened in the past will happen in the future.
Wrong! You can’t achieve success until you’ve had several failures. Life changes. Nothing ever stays the same, even when you want it to.
14. You become a negative role model to other people.
Getting up after a mistake is the real triumph. People are watching you. Maybe your kids—or co-workers if you’re a team leader—are watching you. What kind of role model do you want to be?
15. You lose the chance to be a positive role model.
The experience of the mistake isn’t the only teacher, it’s whether you sink or swim after it. Great leaders are strong swimmers. Michael Jordan noted after being criticized for making a bad drafting call for the Bobcats, “I think we’ve grown from it. I’ve grown from it and hopefully down the road when you make a choice, you try to make a better choice.”
16. You deprive yourself of the benefits of repetition.
Practice builds skill. The only ones who achieve success are those who are willing to repeatedly practice the same behavior, skill, or action until it is perfected. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule,” greatness requires at least 10,000 hours of repetition. The key to success in any field is practicing a specific task 20 hours a week for 10 years.
17. No pain, no gain.
After a hard workout at the gym, your whole body aches, and you love it. Why? Because you feel proud of how much effort you put into improving yourself. You even enjoyed the how much it hurt while you were doing it. (Even though you didn’t look so happy at the time).
18. You won’t discover your chutzpah.
That is, the courage, perseverance, strength, and resilience to push through the tough stuff.
19. You succumb to your fears.
You become frozen anticipating failure. You let fear rule your life and determine your future.
20. You don’t get to be brave.
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” Bruce Lee
Living without mistakes is living only half of a life. There is nothing greater than looking back on your past experiences and seeing how you overcame them, how you learned from them, and how you became a better, happier, smarter, braver, and stronger person because of them.
The list of successful mistake makers is endless. Losers are simply people who don’t pick themselves up after mistakes.
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