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MISTAKES


Learning From Mistakes

The first step to improving our life is to acknowledge mistakes, weak points, and problems.

The secret is knowing when and how to make mistakes, so that nobody gets hurt and everybody can learn from the experience. You are going to make lots of mistakes in your life, and some of them, unless you truly do lead a charmed life, will really hurt--yourself and others. This is inevitable because to learn will involve treading on some toes and upsetting people. Even Ghandi agreed upon this manner. The aim is to reduce our negative impact on others to a minimum whilst acknowledging that it is impossible to live without treading on toes and experiencing holistic hurt.

The more you learn from the relatively painless mistakes, the less likely you are to commit the awful variety.

Making mistakes is the key to making progress. There are times, of course, when it is important not to make any mistakes--ask any surgeon or airline pilot. But it is less widely appreciated that there are also times when making mistakes is the secret of success. What I have in mind is not just the familiar wisdom of nothing ventured, nothing gained. While that maxim encourages a healthy attitude towards risk, it doesn't point to the positive benefits of not just risking mistakes, but actually of making them. Instead of shunning mistakes, I claim, you should cultivate the habit of making them. Instead of turning away in denial when you make a mistake, you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which in a way they are.

The key to that is first, not to try to hide your mistakes. If you hide them, you may, like the magician, enhance your reputation, but this is a short-range solution that will come to haunt you in the long run. Second, you must learn not to deny to yourself that you have made them or try to forget them. That is not easy. The natural human reaction to mistake is embarrassment and anger, and you have to work hard to overcome these emotional reactions. Try to acquire the weird practice of savoring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray. Then, once you have sucked out all the goodness to be gained from having made them, you can cheerfully forget them, and go on to the next big opportunity.

 


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