Make Your Mistakes Matter…
Whether you’re a leader, a teacher, a student, a parent or a friend, it’s almost impossible to get through an entire day without realizing you have made a mistake. As leaders in any culture or capacity, we establish our character, demonstrate our values, and set a powerful example for others with how we handle our own mistakes.
Our busy schedules, ever-long to-do lists, and fast pace of the Northeast make mistakes even more likely to occur. Some are small and easily corrected and others can have long-lasting repercussions and to some of us these mistakes look like failure. If you are someone who prides yourself on being careful and thorough in everything you do, mistakes can feel shameful to you.
All you have to do is speak or read the word failure and see how it makes you feel. The word failure puts forward a very simplistic way of thinking that allows for only two possibilities, failure or success. Few things in the universe are black and white, yet much of our language reads as if they are. The word failure signifies a paradigm in which all subtlety is lost. When we regard the mistakes we have made, or ourselves, as a failure, we lose our ability to see the truth, which is no doubt considerably more complex. In addition, we hurt ourselves. Our thoughts drive our feelings. Try speaking or reading the word failure and see how it makes you feel.
At some point, the word may not have been so loaded with the weight of negativity, and it simply referred to something that did not go according to plan. Unfortunately, in our culture it is often used very negatively, such as when a person is labeled a failure, even though it is impossible for something as vast and subtle as a human being to be reduced in such a way. It also acts as a deterrent, scaring us from taking risks for fear of failure. It has somehow come to represent the worst possible outcome.
Failure is a word so burdened with fearful and unconscious energy that we can all benefit from consciously examining our use of it, because the language we use influences the way we think and feel.
Next time you feel like a failure or fear failure, know that you are under the influence of a passé way of perceiving the world. When the world failure comes up, it’s a call for us to apply a more enlightened consciousness to the matter at hand. When you are consciously aware of the word and its baggage you will not fall victim to its negativity. In your own use of language, you may choose to stop using the words mistake or failure altogether. This might encourage you to investigate and articulate more clearly the truth of the situation, opening your mind to subtleties and possibilities the word failure would never have allowed.
So what is your approach to mistakes? How many of these actions are part of your response?
· Acknowledge. When we acknowledge a mistake—without drama, without excuses, without shaming ourselves—we can move on to the important tasks correcting the mistake and finding ways to prevent it from happening again. We are able to turn the emotional threat of failure into opportunity.
· Accept. Everyone makes mistakes. When we take responsibility for being human (and by nature imperfect), we accept ourselves and become open to accepting others
· Apologize. “I am sorry” are very powerful words. Whatever form it takes, a sincere apology can prevent a mistake from disturbing a relationship.
· Adjust. The impulse to judge ourselves is strong and self-forgiveness can be hard. It’s important to adjust your own view of yourself and your mistakes to reflect the same attitude you would show to others.
· Apply. When we can apply the wisdom we gain from our mistakes, we can carry them forward with us as a positive experience.
“It’s said that there are no mistakes, only lessons, and our biggest mistakes are our greatest source of learning.” ~ unknown
None of us would ever choose to make a mistake. But by adjusting how we think about our mistakes, we can turn them into something better. Remember mistakes are proof that you are trying. Mistakes help us keep ourselves in perspective, to really learn and grow. We often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than by being right for the wrong reasons. We have the ability to turn our mistakes into opportunities, just like turning lemons into lemonade as the saying goes!
How you respond to your mistake all lays within your perception of that mistake. The difference between fulfilled and successful individuals is how they perceive the outcome from this so called “failure”. Those who reach their achievements see failures as single events and keep their expectations realistic AND they only focus on their strengths and energy to take as many tries as necessary until something works for them.
We are experts at being afraid and isolating events in our lives labeling them as failures. Fearing failure can create unnecessary barriers between you and success. Individuals who have a fear of failing need to distinguish the difference between devastation and disappointment. Few outcomes from mistakes are truly devastating. What we need to do is see them in the context of the bigger picture. The moment you do that, it’ll become obvious that:
1. Failure is not an event, but a process, just as success is a journey and not a destination
2. Failure is not the enemy – it is “fertilizer” that nourishes the very seeds we sow
3. Failure is temporary and it is simply a price you pay to achieve success by reaching your goals
Courage is taking action and creating new experiences!
References: Daskal, L. (2013, April 16). Retrieved from: Leadership: Turn Mistakes into LessonsTaylor, M. (2013, May 8). Failure: choose your words. Retrieved from www.dailyom.comFisher, H., Reiner,A. (2008) The clarity compass. Printed in US.