More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. (Harold J. Smith)

Right on! No one is perfect; perfection is an illusion. Why then do so many people try to deny, rather than embrace, their mistakes?

It probably has to do with our darn egos. When we make a mistake, we show the world that we are mere humans, imperfect and fallible. Perhaps we were raised to believe if we make a mistake, it’s always a bad thing. This probably ties into why so many of us are afraid of failure. Mistakes and failure go hand-in-hand and most people try to avoid both like the plague.

I think we might just need to adjust the way we view mistakes. Instead of it being the end of the world, we should view them as little gifts from our subconscious. How else would we find out we don’t yet know everything there is to know about something, if we never made a mistake while doing it?

How would we ever find out that Situation B was what we wanted if we first didn’t make the mistake of getting ourselves into Situation A? If we were more open to the idea that mistakes are the greatest teaching tool never invented, we’d soon discover the process of making mistakes, learning from them and moving forward is possibly one of the most liberating experiences ever.

When we become more comfortable with making mistakes and accepting our failures as stepping stones, we truly embrace the possibilities that exist all around us. As we stop being so afraid of mistakes and failure, we start becoming aware of everything we can yet attempt, and possibly fail, but still try. After all, the trying and doing are the fun parts. And who knows, you might NOT make a mistake, you might NOT fail. The chance of success should be very exciting and motivating enough to face your potential mistakes head on.

What do you think? Why do we feel the need to defend our mistakes or place blame when we make one?


Margaret · April 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM

There’s one other factor in the mistake/blame game, and that’s peer pressure. I remember at one of my jobs that I’d developed such a reputation for perfection (not deliberately) that I secretly longed to screw up big enough to shatter their delusions and all me to be back in the realm of fallible humans. That said, I also did my darndest to make sure it never happened.

I enjoy learning from mistakes, but I hate public ones. I hate having people see me stumble. So I guess another aspect there is the predator/prey one. Not wanting to appear weak.

Which goes back to your question about why don’t we accept them as learning opportunities. It would require major social change to do so, but I think it would be worth the effort :).

Celebrate Your Mistakes by Carolyn Ellis « Unleash the Flying Monkeys! · January 8, 2010 at 9:49 PM

[…] touched on this topic in Quote of the Week: Topic – Human Nature so reading Carolyn’s 12/31 article makes me jump up and down with excitement and […]

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