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

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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