The impact mistakes have had on most people’s lives is tremendous.
At school, you were taught to answer questions with model answers. At home, you were taught to be disciplined, have good manners and follow social etiquette. And at work, you’ve become accustomed to a constant expectation that you operate in a mistake-free manner!
The problem with all the above scenarios is that they punish mistakes. A teacher deducts marks for a wrong answer – a supervisor scolds people for failing to take the right action.
It’s no surprise, then, that from a very young age, people have been made to feel bad about making mistakes. Some have even felt like a complete failure. This constant negative feedback leads to most people desperately trying to live their lives without making any mistakes. It can actually become a compulsion. It may even lead to them trying to hide or lie about their mistakes.
But there is more to making mistakes than most have been led to believe.
The Unexpected Positive Side of Being Wrong
The truth is, by forever seeking to avoid mistakes – we actually end up making more mistakes!
It’s time to start looking at mistakes from a different perspective. They aren’t the monster they’ve been made out to be. They’ve the remarkable ability to help bring about powerful and rapid personal growth.
If you try to avoid mistakes, then you’ll also be missing opportunities to experience something different from what you planned or expected. Imagine that you miss a connecting flight while traveling to an exotic location. By missing the flight, you are forced to stay for 24 hours in a destination that you’d never been to before. To your surprise, though, you find that the nearest city to the airport is picturesque, cosmopolitan and friendly. In fact, during your time there – you begin to fall in love with everything the city has to offer. When you finally have to leave the city to go back to the airport, you feel genuinely sad. The city captivates your interest and warms your heart.
Clearly, if you hadn’t missed your flight, you would’ve never visited the city – and never discovered your immediate liking for it.
Life can be like that. Mistakes can lead to adventures and opportunities. And beyond that, mistakes can help you to understand how to make better decisions in future situations.
Making Mistakes Does Not Fend off Success, Avoiding Them Does
Unsuccessful people put the bulk of their focus and energy on avoiding mistakes, whereas successful people put the bulk of their focus and energy on making continual attempts at reaching their goals.
Jim Carrey, on his debut comic stand-up at a club called Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, he was booed off stage. However, he didn’t let this break him. Instead, he used the experience as a wake up call to improve his performance. This wasn’t the only set back he endured. When auditioning for the Saturday Night Live 1980-81 season, he failed to land the part. Again, he didn’t let this destroy his confidence or ambition, but instead he kept on pursing his dreams until he finally broke through to the mainstream in 1994 with the blockbuster movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
▲ Jim Carrey wasn’t so successful as a comic stand up at the very beginning.
And then there is Michael Jordan. His profile on NBA’s website describes him as “the greatest basketball player of all time.” And this is how most people think of him. However, Jordan himself said that:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life.”
But he clarified this statement by adding some vital information: “And that is why I succeed.”
Each attempt they made was open to mistakes. With more attempts made, the more feedback they received, and the more chances they gained to do better.
So, if you really want to avoid mistakes – attempt nothing and take no risks. Your record may remain clean, you’ll make few mistakes, but you’ll also have few achievements to write home about. In other words, avoiding mistakes is the easiest way to become and stay unsuccessful.
From Making Mistakes to Mastering Mistakes
Failed attempts are only futile if you don’t learn from them.
Let’s say that you expect that mistakes will happen after you’ve made a choice. This is natural. You’re aware that choices come with risks, and risks can lead to mistakes. However, if you allow the same mistakes to occur time and time again, then you’re not learning or evolving – but instead are stuck in a rut. Albert Einstein said it well:
“The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results.”
A much better approach, is to analyze your mistakes, and to see if you can work out how to avoid them in the future. Put another way, make every attempt count and learn from it. By doing this, you’ll quickly overcome foolish mistakes, and begin to make real progress in your life.
As a hard-hitting example for you to think about, if you know that drunk driving can kill, and you still do it because you think it’s about “making more attempts and mistakes,” that’s a foolish act – not an attempt that will help you grow.
On the other hand, if you plan a business project with some risky ideas, but expect there will be mistakes, then even if these efforts turn out to be unsuccessful, you’ll learn from them.
A mistake is just a mis-take, start over by learning from your last mis-take.
Making mistakes doesn’t equal failure. Not making any, however, will mean that you miss out on tons of attempts and learning opportunities. This guarantees failure.
Be brave, be bold, and be prepared to make mistakes.
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