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10 Reasons Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake in Life

10 Reasons Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake in Life

“To err is human…” but is it necessary? Believe it or not, it’s widely believed that not making mistakes could be the worst mistake you ever make.

George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is better than a life spent doing nothing.” And this is largely true. Without mistakes, we don’t know the things we like doing and we don’t learn how to improve. If most inventions and methods are improved through trial and error – not erring would mean rarely improving.

Here are 10 reasons why not making mistakes could be the biggest mistake in life:

1. Making mistakes teach us valuable lessons.

Vincent Van Gogh said, “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes.Only when I fall do I get up again.”

Making mistakes whether in relationships, work life, school or other endeavors is the key to figuring out the things we want to do and how we want to act. Only when we fail at these things can we see where we went wrong and take action to correct them. Did you hover over your girlfriend and act jealously until she felt smothered? Now you know that giving a loved one space is part of a healthy — and longer lasting — relationship.

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2. Mistakes teach us to be forgiving.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain

Recognizing your own mistakes makes it easier to understand others’ mistakes when they happen — especially if they have directly affected you. Did you lend someone your car, only to have them crash it? Have you ever crashed a car? Or broken something that belonged to someone else? You will likely be more apt to forgive the offender knowing from where they came.

3. Mistakes help us let go of our fears.

“You can only go forward by making mistakes,” Alexander McQueen

Some people are afraid to make mistakes. Or they are afraid to try things at which they won’t be good. How can you get good at something without trying — and failing — at it first? When I first started mushing dogs, I was not good at it. My dogs tangled up. I fell off the sled at every turn. Frankly, I was a bruised up mess for a while. In fact, I was often a little afraid to go out on the sled, knowing what large tree or sharp turn I might encounter. But I kept getting back on the sled and learned to adjust my riding accordingly — becoming more athletic in the meantime. If I had let my constant mistakes and fear get the better of me, I might not be training for the Iditarod now.

4. Making mistakes is essential to living a life without regrets.

“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

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How can you discover the things you like and don’t like unless you make mistakes? Maybe you think you want to be a chef so you get a job in a restaurant and they are the worst days you have ever spent. Perhaps you feel like you’ve wasted your time and it was a huge mistake to take on that job. But how would you know unless you tried it? At the end of your life, do you want to look back and see that you only made the “right” choices or wonder what might have been? If you hadn’t tried working in that restaurant you might have gone your whole life thinking you could have been a great chef — and never known how much you actually would have hated it. Mistakes mean a life without regrets.

5. Mistakes help you grow as a person.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

And boy do I have a lot of experience at this point! I’ve made lots of mistakes but it gives me a lot of perspective as well. If I hadn’t taken those turns or gone down those paths — even when they quickly became obvious they were the wrong ones — I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I also would not appreciate my life as much as I do. If everything had come easily, the things I’ve been able to achieve wouldn’t mean as much. I can also be a more accepting and forgiving person overall, knowing how much I’ve screwed up in my own life at times.

6. Mistakes can be fun.

“There are some people who live 70 years, and there some people who live one year 70 times, repeating what they’re doing over and over in the name of the gold watch or whatever.” – Wayne Dyer

OK, maybe it’s not the right kind of fun. And maybe we shouldn’t have done that thing we did. But at least at the end of your years, you won’t have lived the same exact year every year. Mix it up. Try new things. Spending each day in the same way getting the same undesirable result is not only boring, it’s a mistake in and of itself.

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7. Mistakes lead to success.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Chinese Proverb

Most people who are an “overnight success” took years to get where they are. Do you have a goal in mind? A business you want to pursue or a race you want to win? Go look up those people in your field that you admire and find out how long and hard they worked to get where they are. While you don’t have to emulate their struggles, simply recognizing that they didn’t get where they are right away is a huge step in your own success. Everyone takes odd paths and has hard times. The more mistakes you make, the faster you will realize how much you want to do that thing you want to do — and whether or not it’s worth it.

8. Mistakes inspire us.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”. – Edmund Burke

Did you break it? Do it wrong? Make it the wrong way? Screw it up? Whatever “it” is, it’s likely that if you broke it, you’ll have to fix it. Or if you did it wrong, you’ll have to do it again. The more often you have to try something or do something new, the more inspired you get to fix it and do it right. Keep working at it. Take a break and then do it again. Let your mistakes fire you up for success.

9. Mistakes serve as a warning.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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Sometimes mistakes don’t signal a route to success, instead they serve as a warning we should heed. Did you drive a car under the influence and almost hit a person? Did you go to a party and almost lose your job for not making it into work on time the next day? Different mistakes can mean different things and mistakes where we put our selfish desires before our responsibilities can mean trouble — but they can also serve as a warning. Heed those warnings and try to avoid making them again, so you can move forward and succeed in your journey.

10. Mistakes allow us to see how we are like others.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

Let’s be honest, we all think we’re pretty special. Anything we do, any mistake we make, we often feel like we are the only one to experience it in the way we do. Unfortunately, that’s entirely untrue. With 7 billion people on the planet, the likelihood that we are the first to make a certain mistake — or the first to feel a certain way is really unlikely. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not special. And neither am I. But that’s OK. We are special to certain people in our lives and we can still enjoy those moments that are special to us. The greatest advantage to making mistakes is learning that we are just like other people. This gives us more empathy for others — no matter how different from us they are — and the understanding that no matter what we’ve done wrong, someone else has likely done it before.

Featured photo credit: Teenage girl depression – lost love – isolated on white background via shutterstock.com

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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