Make a Mistake; You Might Learn Something

Too often the fear of making a mistake keeps people from trying things or making decisions. They sit back and watch the world go by or wait to see what happens. They are observers to life. They are potential held back by “What if I make a mistake?”

Great Success Comes From Mistakes

No one who has ever achieved success has done so with a perfect record. Every deal hasn’t gone through. Every stock hasn’t made a million. Every sale hasn’t closed. No one wins all the time. No one always says the right thing. Every comedian doesn’t always get a laugh. Nothing in life is perfect. Making decisions and doing things are where our lessons come from. Not getting things perfect the first time, or the second, or the third, is how we learn. We don’t have to crash and burn every time either, but we do have to do something more than we’ve done before in order to grow and gain new skills and abilities. To reach beyond where we are today takes challenging ourselves and our pre-existing knowledge and boundaries. That means we will make mistakes.

The Biggest Mistakes: Not Trying, Not Doing, Not Acting

Our biggest mistakes come from what we don’t do. Few people will beat themselves up at the last moment of their lives for what they did. Our regrets come from the things we didn’t do. The “if only I had” scenarios are those that eat away at us more than the “I wish I hadn’t tried that.” Why? Because even when we try something and it goes wrong, we learn something. We may suffer the consequences in the short term and have some regrets, but later after we have overcome and moved on. We can look back at what we learned and see how we have grown from the experience, becoming more capable than we were before.

We use our life experiences, the good ones and particularly the TGWs (Things Gone Wrong) to push us to higher levels of achievement. Because we don’t want to repeat those TGWs, we look for new ways to do things. We’ve learned our lessons.

Leading the Way

One of my neighbor’s children was visiting one day, and with the eyes only children can have, asked “Why can you do anything?” I had to stop and ask what she meant. “Well, today we’ve baked a cake. Fixed my dress. Did my math and English homework. Painted a picture and a bunch of other things. And yesterday we did a lot of other stuff. Why can you do all of it?” My response: “Well, B. There are a lot of things I can’t do and I didn’t know if I could do all of the things we did. But I wasn’t afraid to try, then if I couldn’t do something, we could find help if we needed it. You can’t ever be afraid to try.”

Leading the way in anything is about two things:

  1. Not being afraid to try.
  2. Being willing to ask for help if you need it.

What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?

Sometimes we worry about the outcome of our failures and get caught up in the “What if I fail?” It is almost like being back in school and being afraid that you are going to make a complete fool of yourself in front of the ENTIRE GROUP OF REALLY POPULAR KIDS—WHAT IF THEY SEE ME? You can recall the most insecure moment of your high school days… and then magnify it by a factor of 10 or 100!

Your Name Synonymous with IDIOT

We’re adults, but sometimes there are those moments when it can feel like we are facing the peer pressure all over again. “What if they don’t like me?” “What if I say something wrong?” “What if (fill in the blank)?” Our minds immediately jump to the worst-case scenario of “If I make a mistake it will be the end of the world. Life as we know it will come to a screeching halt. The ultimate tragedy will occur. I’ll never be able to show my face again. I’ll lose my job and never be able to find another one. I’ll be a laughingstock. My name will become a synonym for IDIOT!”

Go Ahead! What Can Happen?

Look at the worst-case scenario. Say you make a mistake and it is in a work environment. Say it is of a magnitude that it costs the company BILLIONS of dollars. You lose your job and cost everyone else their jobs because you designed a product that had a major flaw that was manufactured and sold. Then it caused lots of customer lawsuits and recalls… and… and… and…You become a footnote in every product liability legal textbook around the world. You can always go on welfare, change your name, live under a bridge, beg on a street corner… OR write a book, appear on the talk show circuit, give inspirational talks, and make millions of dollars on how to detect defects in product designs and life after THE MAJOR CAREER MISTAKE!

So what can happen if you make a mistake? It is somewhere between nothing and a major worldwide disaster from which no one will ever recover. What will happen if you never try? Nothing, or something someone else decides to make happen for you that will be beyond your control.

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