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Mistakes and Failures - Great Friends if You Treat Them Right!

If I asked you right now how you feel about making mistakes and failing, you would likely say not too good! For certain, I don’t know too many people (actually none) that intend to make mistakes and fail. However, truth be told, if you do anything at all, and especially if you do anything that is new or uncomfortable, you will make mistakes and at times “fail”. I define failure as falling short of a desired result. A mistake is to be wrong, make an error, or misunderstand.


So how can you make mistakes and failures be your friends? First, quit demonizing them. For sure when you were in school as a child, you NEVER wanted to make a mistake. And the grade F represented you FAILING the test or the class. An F on the report card was about the worst thing that could happen to a child!!! Such a system of judgment and comparison tends to shut off creativity and increase the tension. So if you are like most people I talk to, you have some pretty negative stories and feelings around not getting a desired outcome and being evaluated and judged a failure. It’s grammar school all over again, and you are FAILING!! Oh how you wish for the A+ and 100% correct and to be right!!! This childhood story is what is eating your lunch and robbing you of an exciting life of creativity, innovation, and amazing outcomes.


If you will put mistakes and failures in their proper place where they can serve you, they can be excellent teachers that will enrich your life. Mistakes often create failure. If you will drop your ego and admit your mistakes, you can learn what needs to change and create a different result. Even the disappointment (which is really optional) that accompanies failure can serve you as well. Once a child touches a hot stove, he likely won’t do it again. Pain can be a great teacher and friend that helps you avoid repeating foolish and unwise choices.


Sometimes failure occurs after initial progress. Shame and regret about your failure is an unnecessary context that you add to what happened. Failure and mistakes cannot make you depressed or despondent. Only your story, interpretation, and created context of self-pity and devastation can cause such emotion. A failure is simply the performance of a system that did not produce the desired outcome. Failures are actually the stepping stones to success. To avoid failure is to avoid the pathway that leads to reaching the desired outcome. Success actually lives in the land of mistakes. The only failure that can’t be overcome is the failure to persevere and push forward. Resignation and quitting are the only permanent failures. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Redefine your failure as just another piece to the puzzle, some additional information, and another learning that will help you discover a better way to do something by showing you what does not work.


When a baby takes her first step and stumbles, we never chide her for stumbling, but are excited and celebrate her first step. If she was never allowed to stumble and fall, she would never learn to walk.


Hopefully you get it and are ready to embrace and love your new friends, failure and mistake. If you treat them like good servants and teachers, they will help you achieve your goals!

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