It’s Too Important To Leave To Chance
“You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don’t think your way into becoming yourself.” — Anne Lamott
Do you often worry about making mistakes? Would you regard yourself as a perfectionist? What is your inner dialogue when you make mistakes? For instance, do you criticise yourself or treat yourself unkindly? I hope you’ll take a moment to think about your answers, since it will help you better understand why you make mistakes.
I don’t know of a single person who hasn’t made a mistake in their life. Do you? Therefore, mistakes are sewn into the fabric of life, and there’s a reason we experience them. Admittedly, some mistakes are more detrimental than others, especially if they involve risking one’s life or the life of others. But on the whole, we’re talking about less threatening mistakes here. You see, if we worry about making mistakes because of the outcome, we will take fewer risks and not venture outside our comfort zone. There could be several reasons we do this, but mainly because we equate mistakes to our self-worth. That is, we believe our mistakes show we are not competent or lacking the talents or skills to achieve a better result.
Nevertheless, this is inaccurate because we miss out on the important lessons and personal growth that come with making mistakes. Take, for example, the greatest entrepreneurs and inventors of our time who made countless mistakes. There was Thomas Edison, who failed 10,000 times to create the incandescent light bulb. There was Henry Ford who made countless mistakes before founding the Ford Motor company when he was nearly 40. And we all know the story of Steve jobs who experienced countless setbacks and failures to create a $1 trillion dollar empire known as Apple. As you can see, it is not about the mistakes made in these examples, but how we move forward in the face of them.
Are you satisfied that making mistakes doesn’t have to affect your self-worth or self-esteem? Rather, we should look for the lessons within our mistakes, so we don’t repeat them. When we focus on the lessons learned, we are looking through the lens of opportunity instead of failure. This is what successful people do repeatedly. They get curious about their mistakes and use them as inflection points to get better. It is about continuous self-improvement, personal growth and overcoming challenges to achieve a result. We mustn’t let our mistakes get in the way of achieving our goals because it is too important to leave to chance.
So, instead of worrying about what might go wrong when pursuing a goal or plan, focus on what can go right. Hold your vision firmly to this and feed your imagination with thoughts of positive reinforcement. Make it a plan to cast out negative doubts and fears because they will emerge, particularly when the goal is big. Expressed differently: as the fears and doubts arise, instead of silencing them, acknowledge them by being mindful of them. There may be a reason the doubts and the fears are surfacing, so it is useful to face them instead of pushing them away. Sometimes, the success we hope for may not come about in a timely manner. As you know, the universe works mysteriously and what may appear as a setback or defeat is laying the groundwork for success to arrive at a later stage.
Welcome Your Mistakes With Openness And Curiosity
“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” — George Bernard Shaw
The key is not to give up on your goal but to keep taking action, however small. For instance, I am presently coaching someone who works within a small organisation. The company is putting a lot of strain on him professionally, with demands he can’t possibly meet. Moreover, my client and his wife recently had a young child, so there is the strain of making money to support their growing family. To make matters worse, his employer recently reduced his salary or offered him the option of quitting. This made matters more tenuous because he is now more conscious about making mistakes and being pushed out of the company.
In our work together, I’ve been helping him find avenues for career opportunities. Prior to this, he was unsuccessful in getting past second round interviews, which made him feel despondent and lacking in motivation. Through our coaching sessions, we have been working on improving his interviewing skills, polishing his resume, and helping him develop the right mindset to succeed. He has already seen a shift in his circumstances and is now motivated to take inspired action instead of leaving it to chance.
To put it another way, his mistakes pushed him to a breaking point where he had to employ a coach to improve his circumstances. This is why we must surround ourselves with people who can help us achieve our goals; which is a better use of our time. Each person will have different lessons, but if you investigate them thoughtfully, there is a teaching point within your experience to help you overcome your mistakes. So, we mustn’t give up when things get tough, but get comfortable with discomfort because resiliency and growth are part of transitioning from our comfort zone. We cannot improve our circumstances if we do the same thing and expect different results. Something has to change and sometimes it means changing our attitude, our beliefs or our methods.
There is always something we can do to improve our circumstances, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. The message is simple: stop worrying or wishing away your mistakes, but welcome them with openness and curiosity. As mentioned earlier, successful business people and entrepreneurs experience countless mistakes and failures. They don’t let their mistakes dictate their self-worth, but use them to advance in their venture. And here we’re not just talking about business but of personal matters, such as health, relationships, career or otherwise. We can apply the same method to all areas of our life if we want to overcome the fear of making mistakes.
Considering this, I invite you to revisit the questions in the opening paragraph and answer them on your computer, phone, or journal. Be honest and truthful when undertaking this exercise because it will help you gain a better understanding of how to move forward in the face of your mistakes. After all, when we stop worrying about making mistakes and focus on the lessons, we will experience personal growth and greater insights into our true self.