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Mending the error of your ways

Errors, blunders, mishaps, failings, “happy accidents,” call them what you will, mistakes are never something we plan nor rejoice when they occur. It is always wise to prepare for them, but purposely prearranging them is unproductive and wasteful. It is nearly impossible to work on a project and not have something go wrong. You are never an anomaly when making a mistake. After all, no one’s perfect, right?

Being an imperfect human is not an excuse nor a free pass to make mistakes, it simply reminds you not to be alarmed when they happen. Everyone faces them and if handled correctly, they serve as learning experiences rather than the setbacks they appear to be. Can the way we learn to process them make a difference in how we overcome them? Is there more than just accepting and learning from our miscalculations or misunderstandings?


There is nothing enlightening about realizing mistakes show us the error of our ways. There are countless quotes reminding us mistakes are “proof that we are trying” or “opportunities to learn.” Although they are nothing we should covet, neither should they be a reason for us to throw away all our effort and hard work. But admitting an error is the first step toward overcoming the hurdle which caused the initial error.

The astounding part is why it is so difficult for some to admit they have errored. Many times, those unwilling to admit mistakes hold positions of power. It’s as though their status dictates they must only demonstrate perfection and anything less is unacceptable. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning tends to stifle their ability to grow and decreases any respect from those they are trying to lead.

Admitting mistakes shows honesty, integrity, and respect for those working with you. It also creates a feeling vulnerability and perhaps this is why those who relish in their perceived power are unwilling to admit any fault. But that vulnerable feeling soon dissipates and transforms into one of accomplishment when a solution is achieved.

Although it is next to impossible not to have some misstep or oversight, it may not always be clear how we ought to identify these mistakes. Are mistakes good? Do they demonstrate I am trying, or are they happy accidents? While they are not the end of the world, are they not setbacks or obstructions? Should I not tolerate making the same mistake twice?

Perceiving faults

The way we learn to respond to our mistakes is vastly different, even among siblings. The attitude we display can often steer us closer or set limits on our ability to find a solution. Sometimes the mistake alone is traumatic enough and does not need to be compounded by a famous quotation telling us how we ought to respond.

There is a well-known quote stating: “Mistakes are meant for learning, not to repeat the same decisions.” Obviously, no one wants to repeat the same mistake; however, if someone unwittingly repeats it twice, that deficiency doesn’t need to be intensified by being shamed from a quotation which was meant to inspire.

I have little concern about admitting my errors or even bad judgements. A few weeks ago, I purposely misplaced a comma in the very same sentence I mentioned “a misplaced comma” expecting to create a humorous effect. No one commented about it and more than likely, most who observed it, probably perceived it as an error. This scheme was undoubtedly a mistake. Will I attempt it again? Probably, but I won’t be upset if it fails again. That is a risk I take as a writer.

I am not compelled to spin my blunders into a positive-sounding pun reminding me to keep my head up and not to quit. I have learned to be okay with myself when these events happen. But I also implore you not to take this as a judgement against someone who wants to perceive it in a different, more positive manner. It is how I deal with them. It would be wrong of me to look down on anyone who prefers to refer to them as “happy accidents.”

If someone has had extreme difficulties working through their faults, they may need to identify them in a more positive light. One more overwhelming blunder may discourage them from moving forward or searching for a solution. If I were to cause them to feel poorly because of their opposing perception, I could very well be the catalyst that kills their progress and crushes their soul.

Perceiving ourselves

Though mistakes happen continually, we never want to assume they are unavoidable. The most serious impact mistakes spawn is crushing our confidence and self-esteem. The key to success is finding a path forward. Too many errors may stop the figurative light from shining, defeating our ambition, and deflating our determination. We must not allow these issues to foster shame and cause us to believe we are the mistake.

Inspirational quotes are valuable, but they should never be perceived as something to tear you down. Otherwise, it would not be inspirational. It is important to understand how we individually respond to our own shortcomings and missteps. We must not allow a cleverly worded phrase to dictate how we respond.

While we realize our flaws, we don’t want to be known for them. People generally are recognized for their successes and not the lack thereof. Recognizing our failures is not an admission of breakdowns or disasters, it could also be interpreted as “Victory in training.”

Many of us know how discouraging making mistakes can be. This is precisely why it is important to uplift and encourage others while they navigate through their difficulties. Experiencing support from others has carried us through particularly rough moments, and while our actions will never change anyone, they can directly impact others and we can become the catalyst which helps them find resolution and success.

My thanks to Nuno Antunes on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.

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