Learning From the Mistakes Of Life
Life is continually teaching each of us lessons, and we merely need to pay attention to the daily events we experience, our reactions to them and even the experience of others in our lives to learn something on any given day. One of the things that I have noticed about myself and everyone I know is that we really don’t like to make mistakes. When we do, we beat ourselves up for them for days, years and in some cases for the rest of our lives. It makes you start to wonder, why we are so afraid to make mistakes. Are we born perfect knowing everything? Aren’t mistakes an inevitable part of growing and developing as a human being? If you show me someone who has never made a mistake then I will show you someone who has never tried. It makes me start to wonder why we are as a society so afraid to make mistakes. When you look at our educational system, it is predicated to celebrate the knowledge of a select few, while the majority of students who may be the most creative thinkers and eventually the people who would change the world are held up and discouraged by this unrealistic expectation of our society, be perfect or you are a failure. Why are we so afraid to fail?
Everyone Makes Mistakes, What Did They Learn?
One reason we are afraid of mistakes is that we have an unrealistic idea that successful people don’t make them, ever. When you look into history you see the accomplishments of our great leaders, you imagine that they never made any mistakes. Abraham Lincoln failed miserably at almost everything he tried, throughout his entire life, until he became president. The brilliance of Lincoln to me was that he didn’t let his previous failures to stop him from continuing to try. He wouldn’t have been the wise and talented leader he became if it wasn’t for the experience of those mistakes he made in his life. Lincoln was not perfect; he was the perfect leader for that time in history. Today the media would not allow Lincoln to become President, because his mistakes would be broadcast as an indictment of his competence rather than an example of his character and perseverance.
Mistakes Don’t Equal Weakness
Another reason we fear mistakes is that they allow others to see our weaknesses. Most
times when you make a mistake, we feel like the whole world is watching, even though there may only be a few people aware of your misstep. We equate these mistakes with being less of a person, rather than just a natural part of the learning process. It you never made a mistake, you have never tried anything new and if you have never felt angry, upset, and embarrassed about a mistake then you have never lived. It is not a weakness to try, in fact the ability to fail, evaluate why it happened, make adjustments and try anew should be the backbone of any great educational system. That is the learning process that can carry over into every aspect of your life. You will never really learn if you don’t look honestly at your mistakes and take the lessons that each will give you.
Mistakes in Controlled Situations
One of the many reasons that extracurricular activities are so vitally important to society is that they provide a safe place to make mistakes and quickly learn lessons about how to
overcome them. When you play on a sports team, you will make mistakes during the course of a game. It happens, you miss a shot, you give up a goal, you get beaten by a player with greater skill, but these mistakes each provide you with a learning opportunity and it is your choice to participate or not. Sports can teach you how to persevere, be unselfish, identify your weaknesses and work to overcome them. The ability to follow the learning process in a natural workshop, if embraced and identified will allow all participants to grow. Even if you get cut from a team after a tryout there are valuable lessons to be gleaned. You can quit the sport forever or identify your weaknesses, work to improve them and try again. You may not make the team but if you follow the process of trying, failing, identifying weaknesses, working to improve, and then trying again you are well on your way to being successful. This is a skill that can be applied to any aspect of your life.
Living Your Life vs Running Out the Clock
As we grow older, many people start to believe that they are immune from making any mistakes. It is true that experience will help guide your and wisdom will help you avoid simple mistakes, but if you make no mistakes than you have stopped trying to learn and have decided to run out the clock. In basketball when you have a seemingly sufficient lead, it is common practice to try to run out the clock. Once the clock expires and you are ahead you win the game. Teams stop trying to create offense, and score new baskets, as they are satisfied with their accomplishments and running away the time. Many people adopt this philosophy with their lives. They plan out their lives on a plan, high school, college, career, family, retirement, followed inevitably by death. At some point during this process, you are going to hit a run out the clock situation, waiting for retirement or waiting for death, people seem satisfied and never make mistakes again. Not knowing something can be scary, because if there is something that you don’t know, then what else don’t you know? That can inspire some people but scare the ever loving crap out of someone else. Learning and experiencing new things is much more preferable to running out the clock. Try something, if you make a mistake, evaluate why it didn’t work, make adjustments, then try again. This is the learning process that can lead you to ultimate success. Doing nothing and running out the clock will lead you to retirement or to death. Good luck.
Life is a Learning Process
Life as I see it is a learning process, and mistakes and failure have been given to you as a gift to help you find where you have weaknesses or short comings, allow you to make adjustments and to achieve success in whatever sphere you want to achieve success in. Mistakes should not be something you fear like a monster, they should be embraced, evaluated, learned from and then discarded into the memory of your experience. Failure is never final until you stop trying. Hug your mistakes and value the part they play in your learning process.