I was in my 40s when I first heard the old adage “I’ve gained much more from my failures than I’ve gained from my successes.” It gave me pause; I’ve had my share of successes, and I remember them fondly. My failures generally involved painful lessons that I’d rather forget.
In reflecting on mistakes, the most common that come to mind are the BIG ones. Since I’ve been married three times, I have to consider: were my first two marriages mistakes? Or was it how I approached them? I suspect it was less about partner choices and more about my own level of maturity, patience and appreciation of differences. There wasn’t much celebration of these failures, but there was a lot of reflection.
My most common employment mistake has been to try too long to please bosses or clients who are a “bad fit.” Now, I realize if there isn’t mutual respect, I should cut my losses and run as quickly as I can. I can make money more efficiently and work more effectively when I experience mutual respect. In its absence, I make little progress up a steep hill, no matter how hard I try.
Taking responsibility for mistakes
Ultimately, in addition to learning from my failures, I’ve learned that the faster I take responsibility for my role in making a mistake and the sooner I acknowledge that “I am sorry,” the faster the mistake fades into the past.
If you rarely make mistakes, you’re playing it too safe, and you won’t have the opportunity to learn and grow. So the next time you make a mistake, take the time to reflect and mark what you can learn from it.
Getting older and wiser is certainly something to celebrate. I welcome hearing about your experiences and the ways you have learned to “celebrate” your mistakes.