Facing up to our mistakes

We mustn’t let our mistakes derail us from living life to the full

A life without mistakes is a life that hasn’t been lived.

It means we’ve haven’t pushed ourselves to the limits. Or not attempted anything new or challenging. Or not cared enough. Or played it too safe.

The lack of mistakes in life is not an indicator of success.

Not that we should pursue mistakes—of course not—we just shouldn’t try and avoid them.

The truth is that we will all make mistakes anyway: at work, in relationships, with life choices.

Having resisted the urge to try and avoid mistakes though, the challenge then becomes what do we do about the mistakes that we do make.

How do we respond to mistakes or failure or errors of judgment?

Own it

It starts with owning the mistake. Human nature has an instinctive ‘It wasn’t me’ reaction when we mess up, but this is deadly if we want to learn and grow from when we get it wrong.

We have to face up to reality. Denial never helps us. It holds us back and steals a learning opportunity.

Seize the chance to grow

And that’s the next thing. Mistakes are a growth opportunity. They are a chance to learn. If we don’t, we end up repeating the same mistakes.

Been there, done that. It’s not pretty. Mistakes can only be transformed into something positive if we take the chance to learn from them.

Don’t let sorry be the hardest word

Sometimes our mistakes will have hurt or undermined others. We mustn’t be afraid to apologise. How many relationships—whether with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, or teammates—could have been saved if we were better at saying ‘Sorry’?

I’m not great at this. But I’m trying to improve. We need to say sorry at the earliest opportunity and say it with sincerity.

Remember that mistakes are opportunities

After owning our mistakes, learning from them, apologising where necessary, we then need to make sure we don’t let the mistake cripple us.

We can’t afford to let mistakes stop us from stepping out, risking, or trying something new. Having made mistakes it’s tempting to play it safe. Don’t. The world needs each of us giving everything, not holding back.

Maybe we messed up an interview for a dream job. Or perhaps we said the wrong thing and it ruined a blossoming friendship. These things will happen from time to time. But we have to keep pursuing that dream job and building great friendships.

Mistakes can all too easily derail us, preventing us stepping out into the unknown and unfamiliar again. They can stop us from living life to the full. We mustn’t let them. We have to embrace mistakes as opportunities. Opportunities to become both better at what we do and better people.


Image: Milada Vigerova

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