“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
Fear of Failure is what keeps people away from taking risks and making mistakes. We don’t realize that we all make mistakes everyday. They could be large or small, they could be failures of faux pas but almost all of us make some mistake everyday. The problem is that we don’t take these mistakes and failures as great learning opportunities. In fact, successful people learn lessons from our mistakes.
In business and in personal lives we live and act in ways to prevent making any mistakes – we do not takes risks, we stay in our comfort zone instead of extending it and stay hidden in our boxes instead of thinking outside the box. We don’t realize that every mistake can be a guide in our learning process, which can help us grow and a person.
It is time for you and me to embrace our failures & mistakes because more often than not, if we have the inclination, they can teach us powerful lessons. Here are nine of the lessons that they can teach.
- Mistakes can teach us to accept ourselves as we are, flawed but still loved.
Mistakes are a great way to appreciate ourselves even while we acknowledge that we screwed up.At least we tried to do something, which didn’t go as we wanted it to. Almost all of us have this long history of kind of cursing ourselves when we do it wrong. On the contrary we should try to laugh at our mistakes and then work on correcting them. Appreciate that we are not perfect and we all have some or the other flaw. However, people who love and care about would still be there with us even with these flaws.
- Mistakes can teach us to be clear on what we really want and how we want to live our lives
When we notice and admit our mistakes we are actually getting to revisit our commitments – what is it that we want to do, have and be. When we make a mistake it gives us clarity and helps us refocus our attention to achieving our targets. In this fast paced world, a lot of times we loose our focus and start worrying about the short term issues or problems and go off track. Mistakes are the barriers that help us stop, think, regroup and again start moving towards our goals. Every mistake helps us working out possible solutions to problems, redefine our wants and expectations, reexamine our goals and thus give us more clarity about the path we should be taking.
- Mistakes can teach us about ourselves and how to face and tell our truth.
Every time we make a mistake we want to cover it up because they embarrass us. Have you ever seen a child when he makes a mistake? He would do anything to convince us it was not he. We are the same. We have become adults but when it comes to mistakes we are the same, we don’t try to convince otherwise, we try to hide. We wish we had something like a mistake eraser. But accepting our failures gives us an opportunity to practice speaking the truth. When we speak the truth we are helping ourselves to expand our knowledge of self – know who we actually are. By doing so we are accepting the opportunity to change. Acceptance helps us become a better human.
- Mistakes can help us identify what works and what does not.
As a consequence of every mistake that we do, we can identify what is it that did not work. Yes there has to be analysis done to actually identify what worked and what did not, but when we make mistakes it becomes easier to identify it. In our personal lives as well as professional we should have processes that would analyze our mistakes and help us with feedback. If we are able to build such processes, every time a mistake happens the analysis and feedback would give us the reasons for the mistakes and we would know what did not work. With such insights we can always be on the path of improvement of our products/ services or ourselves.
- Mistakes can teach is to be responsible and accept responsibility.
Have you ever seen a child dropping a glass and immediately turning back to say ‘I didn’t do it!’. To tell you the truth that is the first instinctive reaction of even adults. When a mistake happens we immediately want to shift he blame elsewhere ‘Its not my fault’. On the contrary if we actually start accepting responsibility for failures, we would force ourselves to reflect on the why, how, where, who, when of the failure. This way we would ensure that the next time when we are working on something similar we would not make such mistakes again and fail. By taking responsibility we are reducing (if not eliminating) the chances of making the same mistake again.
- Mistakes can teach us to accept our fallibility and face our fears.
There are going to be times when best of our efforts would just not work out. We would do everything possible to achieve what we have aimed for by still fail, over and over. At such times we should be able to admit that we are stuck. Mistakes help us to experience and understand our fear. And when we are able to experience, understand and face the fear, more often than not, they disappear. With the fear disappearing, we are no longer afraid to admit that we are stuck and ask for help. When we do that, it would be surprising for you to know that help in toe form of resources, people and solutions would appear. It is the fear that keeps these from appearing.
- Mistakes can teach us to live fully and engage in our own lives.
When we make mistakes, we realize that we are more than our mistakes. We are not really defined by our behavior. We also need to remember that our history should, and is not, responsible for our future. I have seen people retreating what the face a big mistake. On the contrary, we need to remember than failure is a way of growing, learning, taking risks and stretching ourselves to meet our potential. When we make mistakes, we should be happy that we are not content with playing it safe, because almost nobody has achieved greatness by playing it safe. Once we have experienced failure, we have to realize that there is an opportunity to go all the way – to participate in this life fully, make a name for ourselves and we are on are way to do so.
- Mistakes can teach us about integrity.
Mistakes are generally an indication that our words and our actions are out of sync, out of alignment. Mistakes often happen when we over-commit, try to avoid conflict or fail to actually listen to what is being said. If we actually look back, we would realize that most of the big mistakes often started with small errors. Over a period of time, these small errors would accumulate and cause a major breakdown. This indicates that even our smallest of choices can have long term consequences and so it is important to pay attention to the integrity of the choices we make on an everyday basis. So even when making these small decisions, keep an eye on the intentions, commitments and adjust if you feel it would affect our integrity.
- Mistakes can help us to inspire others.
People would really listen to you if you have been able to move on after making a mistake and achieved success, however large or small it may be. People would get inspired by your stories – Here is a man/woman who didn’t get dejected facing failures and moved on, learning from his/her mistakes and making a success even when others would have quit. These real life stories can inspire many new entrepreneurs to move away from the fear of failure and take that first step towards becoming successful entrepreneurs. In fact that would hold true for anybody, who has that fear of taking risk, not just new entrepreneurs.
So these where the list of 9 lessons that we can learn from making mistakes. By no means is this an exhaustive list. There can be other lessons that can be learnt from making mistakes. If you want to contribute to this list, please feel free to leave a comment below, on the blog. You could also write to me at vikas.s @askconsulting .in and I would be happy to include your point in this list.
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