Willingness to learn from mistakes is the backbone of all progress. How many mistakes do you think Alexander Graham Bell made in inventing the first telephone that connected one room in his house to another? Now technology allows us to see the person we’re speaking with on the other side of the globe. How many mistakes did the engineers make while developing this technology? Who cares? The object is to succeed, not to count your mistakes.
Mistakes are part of the natural process of striving to make constant improvements in your life. Mistakes are essential to your progress. If fact, without mistakes, you can’t be successful. The minute you decide to work toward achieving a goal that is important to you, you will make mistakes. How did we humans get the idea that to be perfect we couldn’t make mistakes? Never making a mistake does not make us perfect. Never repeating a mistake after we learn from it is as perfect as we need to be.
In the face of a mistake, stay motivated and remind yourself that is part of your path to success – that making mistakes is essential because it helps you to become better and better as you practice. Imagine the freedom you’ll feel when you don’t have to worry about defending or hiding your mistakes. Experience the increased energy that comes from this freedom! Welcome your mistakes into your consciousness as your friends and teachers.
If you do what you are determined to learn from mistakes, you will also gain a precious gift: wisdom. There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is something you gain by looking up information on the internet, in an encyclopedia, or in books or other resources. Wisdom, however, comes from experience. You don’t gain wisdom by reading or absorbing information; you only gain it through experience. When I interview applicants for a job at one of my businesses, I always look at how much real-world experience they have and what hardships and challenges they have had to face and overcome. I find that those who are willing to learn from mistakes and take on new challenges develop a resiliency and inner strength that gives them the edge on the job and in their personal lives.
Fear of Making Mistakes is Mental Laziness
Part of our fear of mistakes is pure laziness. What’s the worst thing that will happen if you make a mistake? You will have to abandon that course of action and take another, which means, in short, a lot of work. It means you will have to think of another course of action. You may have to be creative. You may have to expend energy in thinking, evaluating, planning. You may have to resist emotions such as despair, futility, rejection, and fear.
If you are mentally lazy, making mistakes will be one of the best excuses you have for giving up, for deciding that maybe your goal isn’t so important after all. What a senseless waste that would be. Why expect so little out of life and out of yourself?
Mistakes are not harmful in and of themselves. What is harmful is our attitude toward mistakes. If you are willing to make mistakes, look at them, regard them as feedback, and keep right on making them until you achieve your goal, you have the right attitude. You won’t purposely make mistakes, of course. But because you are challenging yourself, you will be aware that mistakes are a natural part of the process. Having the right attitude toward mistakes, the right view of them, will give you the freedom to pursue your goals with confidence, with minimum distraction, and with your success securely focused in your mind. When you find yourself joyfully moving from one situation to another, using mistakes for learning, growing, and improving, you will know that your Silent Master is beginning to operate in your life.