“Roy, I think I am too daft for this life”, a lady told me after a ‘Focus Talk’ somewhere last weekend. “Why do you say so?” I sought to understand. “I seem to be making mistakes in everything I touch. I can hardly complete any task perfectly”, said the evidently disturbed lady. I have been thinking about it and I realize that this feeling is not unique to her.
Many of us have continuously encountered this feeling. Mistakes seem to be our second nature. Few seem to be the tasks you accomplish without your boss pointing out a mistake or two here and there. Many of your business decisions seem to be full of mistakes. They have probably landed you in financial ditches not once nor twice. Communication blunders and other relationship mistakes among couples have threatened to crush marriages. Driving mistakes have caused more harm on our roads and the list is endless.
Let’s face it, mistakes are not pleasant. We all do not like them. They are day and nightmares combined. However, the extent to which mistakes affect us depends on our perception of the same. How do you view mistakes? Are they a condemnation? Do they lower your self-esteem? The way we handle mistakes can either spell doom on our growth prospective or propel us to unimaginable heights. A negative perception of mistakes for instance, can breed fear of failure whose consequences are dire. Fear of failure causes inaction since the affected tend to concentrate on the consequences of failure than the fruits of success. So they avoid anything that would lead them to fail. They analyze the shame they will feel if they made mistakes even before they attempt an action. Since protection against shame is of great importance to them in the short run, they opt not to get into action. I need not say that inaction and success are parallel ideals that will never intersect even in dreams.
May be we have not appreciated core facts about mistakes. Human beings are not perfect. We all are work in progress and therefore mistakes will always be our daily companions. We all have intentions and dreams of success in different realms of our lives. Fact is, success is a product of intentional action. Success can also only be said to have occurred when enough lessons have been learnt on the way to its achievement (in the course of taking action). Actions of success always come with lots of learning opportunities disguised as mistakes. Yes, every mistakes carries with it a golden chance to learn a thing or two. One distinguishing feature between winners and losers has been the ability of winners to appreciate the inherent learning value of mistakes. They therefore are never scared of making mistakes as long as they learn something for their intended goal to be achieved.
It is not a mistake that mistakes keep happening whenever you attempt something. Life is offering you precious chances to better yourself and get even stronger as you pursue your life goals. Tragedy is not making mistakes, but failing to learn from them. Tragedy is making the same mistake again in exactly the same manner as it directly indicates that you have not learnt from the mistake. Of the numerous mistakes made by Thomas Edison while working on the electric bulb, he gave a powerful statement that alludes to how we need to view mistakes. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…”
There are three things you can do about mistakes: ignore them, deny them or accept and learn from them. The first option leaves you with no task well accomplished since you make no effort to correct the mistakes you make. You know of their existence but choose to do nothing about them. It creates a pile of mistakes that later haunt you in a big way. In the end, you can only afford to wish you corrected them earlier. The second option creates a blaming person. When you deny mistakes, you deny yourself the learning opportunity because you fail to own the mistakes. You lay blame on other people and things. It’s a bad option since only losers blame every mistake on everything but themselves. I say again, you are not a loser, so shun this option. I beseech you to adopt option three. You can only learn from that process which you accept and own. The option breeds a positive attitude towards mistakes, which is all you need in leading a successful life.
Every mistake that happens in the course of your actions is not a condemnation. In fact you need it for the next course of the success journey. I urge you to see beyond the shame and learn how to avoid it in your next attempt. Every pleasant success story was borne out of lessons learnt from mistakes. Do not take mistakes personal. Take them as opportunities. Be positive about them. Your boss and colleagues may yell and laugh at you respectively, but be calm for only you know the value of the mistake you have made. Do not beat yourself up for making a mistake. At least you attempted. Do not give up due to mistakes, embrace them and energize yourself for the next attempt. Accept that mistakes are here to stay but not to be exactly repeated. Greatness lies in the very actions that cause you to make mistakes, actions that are extremely inevitable if your much needed success were to happen. So keep moving! The more you move, the more you make mistakes, the more you learn, and ultimately, the more you succeed. Stop being a success spectator and become a success player! You can do better!