Mistakes are the greatest Teacher's
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new ~ Albert Einstein
Have you ever made a mistake? I bet you have....lots, I am sure...and so have I. In fact, I probably make mistakes of differing degrees everyday. I can easily admit that ....now.
Ask me if I made mistakes 15 years ago and I would probably either bury my head in the sand to avoid the question , deny, deny, deny, or admit it then spend the next days (maybe weeks), BEATING myself up for making a mistake. Perfectionism is a nasty disease. Screwing up is human nature.
When I was about 5 years old, I was playing in our family room with my little sister who was about 2 at the time. My Dad left his big hand saw in the room after using it to make a minor home repair. I looked at that saw ...and then eagerly scanned the room for something...anything... that I could try cutting with that saw. My naive little eyes settled on our TV which was encased in wood. With a squeal of excitement I picked up that big hand saw and cut a notch into the Tv cabinet...SUDDENLY, as I was dragging the jagged teeth over the supple wood, mesmerized by this glorious concept of a saw cutting into wood... I realized what I was doing, and dropped the saw.
My Mother - wondering why we had suddenly become so quiet (quiet kids are never a good sign) came to investigate. Both my sister and I were standing sheepishly by the TV, our eyes trained on the fresh cut notch... a bead of sweat trickling down my back. My Mother, of course, was very angry that the TV now sported an ugly notch. "Who did this?" she demanded....instantly I pointed to my sister. Of Course! I was a genius! Blame the innocent, unassuming 2 year old who doesn't know better (and really has no clue as to what is going on), ...my sister subsequently was spanked ...hard...and sent to bed. I spent the rest of the day thinking I was so smart to avoid that spank!
Then the guilt set in. I was an awful human being. I blamed my sister in an effort to avoid admitting my mistake, and I allowed her to be punished for something I did.
Forget the mistake - remember the lesson
This mistake, and secondary mistake when I blamed my sister, HAUNTED me. And it was a mistake...a 5 year old's frontal cortex is so underdeveloped, at the time I could only comprehend "saw" and "wood"...not that I was damaging my parents TV...until the damage was visible to my eyes.
At first it just niggled at me...every once in awhile ....the thought would cross my mind. My guilt kept me from blaming her again - so I learned a lesson. But eventually circumstances would cause me to have a VERY hard time forgetting my mistake. You see...my sister's time on earth was cut short by cancer. She was just ten years old. And my guilt came back full force and weighed on me heavily. How could I have done something to my sister which in turn resulted in her being harshly punished and now she's DEAD?!
It ate at me. It showed up in my dreams. It caused my mind to wander in school...arguing with myself over my despicable behavior. I developed anxiety and poor coping mechanisms. It was my deep dark secret and I was absolutely going to hell.
Eventually I stopped beating myself up everyday for that mistake...and I assuaged my guilt by trying really hard not to blame others for my mistakes. But I still couldn't easily own up to things I did , and I waffled between denial and overreacting when I made a mistake. After all, I am a Virgo...we HAVE to be perfect . Or so I thought.
We would not be human if we weren't making mistakes.
What sets us apart though is what we do once that mistake is made. Do we run from it or own up to it and commit to learning from it? Or do we do our best to avoid making mistakes in the first place - strive for perfection ? That sounds insanely stressful ( I know, I have tried) and ultimately, as philosopher and writer Elbert Hubbard said;
"The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one"
What we can do is turn our mistakes into opportunities or ideas...perfect the art of "successfully" screwing up. Accept our limitations and learn and grow to be better versions of ourselves.
First - we need to acknowledge our mistake but not dwell on it. We will make mistakes. Everyone does. There is no shame in admitting and acknowledging you made a mistake. It took me a long time to understand this - shame and my pride would prevent me from clearly admitting to my mistake...Once we acknowledge we made the mistake, we must not let it fester and grow into a bigger problem than it is. We need to own up to what we did, but also not let it define us or consume our thoughts and feed the negative self talk reel that's often constantly on play.
Accept that to err is human, to forgive is divine. Failure to recognize when you’ve made a mistake prevents you from learning and improving. Release your ego from overtaking your mistake and dismiss your pride, shame and fear of rejection. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Avoid piling all the blame on yourself. There are some people who seem to blame themselves for everything. Blaming yourself for mistakes others have made, is no different than refusing to accept responsibility for your own mistakes. Both will prevent you from improving and learning.
Then we must examine why we are making mistakes. Is it just genuine human error, or is there something going on in our lives that is preventing us from applying due care and attention to our tasks at hand? Are we without the necessary tools and experience and where can we acquire that knowledge? Are we being lazy, apathetic and simply not interested in being accurate or doing a task well? Knowing your why will help direct you to opportunity .
Fatigue and stress are my number one catalysts that cause me to become careless, forgetful, pre occupied, and this is when most of my errors generally occur. It's hard to juggle a lot of things at once and I can still be victim to my thoughts when stress starts piling up, even though I have done a lot of personal work around managing my stress and negative thoughts. When I start to see errors happening, I know that I need to slow down, take a few breaths, perhaps even lighten my schedule and deal with what is causing me to be careless or distracted . Quit fighting the current and just float for a bit.
Your mistake does not define you.
You next step is to gain knowledge. We must never stop learning and acquiring knowledge. Turn the mistake into an opportunity to learn, or to be more aware. Some of the greatest ideas came out of earlier mistakes or failures.
The worst mistake is the one we didn't know we made. I am always thankful when someone points out a mistake or error. Previously, I would have become extremely defensive or spent days sulking about it. Now I strive to grow and become the best version of myself on a daily basis. I don't take it personally, I take it as a personal opportunity to grow. You don't know what you don't know. Would you feel comfortable knowing you have made the same mistake over and over because it was never brought to your attention? Be grateful when someone does point it out.
Mistakes are alway forgivable if one has the courage to admit them ~ Bruce Lee
At the end of the day, be easy on yourself while still holding yourself accountable and finding the opportunity in the mistakes. Your successes likely outweigh your mistakes, unless you really haven't made any effort to learn from them.
If you want to grow, you need to get over any fear you may have of making mistakes ~John C Maxwell
And now my Mother knows it was ME that cut the notch in the TV....