The True Meaning of Mistakes

I must admit I don’t like making mistakes. I especially don’t like making stupid mistakes by overlooking obvious warning signs or mistakes that come from a lack of planning. But most of all I hate making the same mistake twice. 

I also must admit that I need to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of success. Every success story I’ve ever been a part of needed mistakes to grow stronger and achieve ultimate success. I believe that overcoming mistakes on the path to success helps people maintain that success when additional challenges arise.

People who never make mistakes had better be comfortable with the status quo. They will seldom stumble upon innovative ideas or solutions. They prefer complaining to risking the possibility of a mistake while looking for something better. 

They think a mistake is the equivalent of failure. Mistakes are actually irrefutable proof that you’re chasing after something better. Mistakes are not a sign that you’ve done something wrong, they are in fact the evidence that you’re doing something right. 

Mistakes mean you’re either searching for or are already on the path to success.

I’m not recommending that anyone intentionally make mistakes. I’ve never found the need to be intentional when it comes to mistakes, they just show up on their own. They often show up at the worst possible times and when we least expect them. Well okay,  they don’t exactly show up on their own. I frequently “invite” them into my life by pretending “that” won’t happen to me or thinking I’m too smart to make the same mistake a billion other people have made. 

Never “double-up” on a mistake by denying it. When you’ve made a mistake admit it quickly and if you need help to fix it then ask. Admitting a mistake does not make you look weak. It demonstrates that you have the courage to acknowledge it. It shows you intend to overcome whatever roadblocks the mistake may have created. 

Stare down your mistakes by looking them in the eye. Before too long you may see them smiling back at you and you’ll realize how much help they have been.

Learning from Mistakes

Mistakes happen. They are a part of life. With any luck they are also part of learning. Actually luck has nothing to do with it. Humility does. Honesty does. A desire to grow does. Authenticity does.

You will never learn from a mistake you will not admit. You will never learn from one of your mistakes that you attempt to blame on someone else.

People who will not admit a mistake are not much better off than the people who won’t try anything outside of their comfort zone because they are afraid of making one.

Mistakes you don’t admit you make again and again. Mistakes you blame on other people you make over and over. There is however a school of thought that says after you make the same mistake 3 or 4 times it’s not a mistake anymore, it’s a decision. I am firmly enrolled in that school.

Successful people are not afraid to admit their mistakes. They accept responsibility for them, learn from them, use what they can to grow and then they move forward towards greater success.

But even better than learning from your mistakes is learning from the mistakes of others. This is most commonly accomplished by paying attention, having a mentor and asking the right people for advice. Notice that I didn’t say asking for advice, I said asking the right people for advice.

It is my belief that the right people are those who have already accomplished something that I’m hoping to accomplish myself. The right people won’t only tell you how to do something, it’s likely they will show you. They can also provide you insights on how not to do something and that’s the advice that can help us learn from their mistakes.

I say “can help” because in order to learn from the advice of others you must be willing to both listen to the advice and do something differently than you otherwise would have because of it.

So let me offer you this advice: Make a mistake! In fact, make lots of them. A good portion of your success will be determined how fast you can make your mistakes. The rest of your success will be determined by how fast you can learn from those mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Extraordinary success will find you if you’re able to learn from the mistakes of others rather than making them yourself.

Everybody makes mistakes. Not everybody can learn from them. Which everybody are you?