How to Use Mistakes to Help You Succeed
I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones. ~John Peel
Sound familiar? How do you feel when you make a mistake? For some, a mistake is a mere bump in the road; for others, reactions may include disappointment, anger, alarm, agony, guilt, frustration, distraction, panic, tension, nervousness … or a combination of all of the above.
This sense of dread and self-recrimination combined with the inevitability of setbacks when attempting challenging things explains why many people unconsciously hold back giving their all to achieving a goal: they’re simply not prepared to deal with the mistakes and failures they’ll face on the road to achieving what they want.
What’s missing in many people’s understanding of what it takes to succeed is the fact that the more challenging (and meaningful!) the goal, the more frequent and difficult setbacks, and yes mistakes, there will be. Simply put, the greater you desire to create a better life for yourself, the more important it is to develop the ability to overcome and learn from your mistakes.
All mistakes are not created equal
Admittedly, there are good mistakes (they help us learn as we live) and bad mistakes (the careless or chronic ones that plague us as a result of thoughtless or irresponsible behavior).
But the undeniable truth of human life is that we will never stop making mistakes. However, your determination to learn from your mistakes goes a long way towards determining who you are and what you can become as a person.
How to use mistakes can help you succeed
- Learn from them. Instead of seeing a mistake as something horrible choose to view it more as a learning experience. Develop the ability to ask yourself questions such as: What’s positive about this situation? What can I learn? How can I prevent it from happening again?
- Gain experiences you could not get any other way. Understandably, you’d probably prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes and failures, but sometimes you just have to fail on your own to learn a lesson and to gain an experience no one can relate to you in mere words.
- Develop strength and confidence. You gain inner strength and confidence by accepting responsibility. You become more resilient by realizing more and more that a mistake is not the end of the world. Best of all, you find yourself easily handling situations that may have overwhelmed you in the past.
- Learn to give your all. Rather than holding back for fear of failure or ridicule, you are able to give your all to achieving your goals and dreams. So over time you become more and more likely to succeed.
- Improve your ability to let go and move on. It’s easy to make new mistakes simply by spending too much energy dwelling on and protecting yourself against the old ones. To learn to let go and move on after a mistake you’ll find it helps to develop a healthy sense of humor. Work to understand the mistake until you can make fun of it (or at least not want to kill others that make fun). It might take a few days, but eventually you’ll see some comedy in what happened and find it much easier to let it go and move on.
The most important lesson in all of mistake making is to trust that while mistakes are inevitable, if you can learn from the current one, you’ll also be able to learn from future ones. No matter when happens tomorrow you’ll be able to get value from it, and apply it to the day after that. Progress won’t be a straight line but if you keep learning you will have more successes than failures, and the mistakes you make along the way will help you get to where you want to go.
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