I’ve made mistakes my whole life, as I will until the day I die, no different from you or anyone else that ever did, does, or will exist. Yet, despite this commonality of all human beings being fallible, which one could argue, is essentially the human condition, most of us fight, irrationally, ignorantly, and egotistically to never admit fault.
I personally find this behavior, as I do most things “normal” people do, to be quite peculiar, at least in adults. No doubt, as a child, there were a few occasions where I tried to glue Mom’s antique tea cup back together or blamed the cat for the broken vase. But, as I grew into my teenage years I found it silly to bother trying to cover my tracks, stress about it, or feel the weight of guilt instead of simply fessing up right away, offering an apology, and trying to remedy the situation.
As an adult, I’ve learned to actually value mistakes, as the quickest way to learn lessons and improve myself. Because of this mindset, I’m also very outspoken because I don’t fear (not to say that I enjoy confrontation) others thinking that I’m wrong nor do I fear coming to find out that I, myself, am actually wrong, because there’s nothing wrong with saying “You know what, you’re right, I’m wrong. I never thought of it that way before.”
The older I get, the more I enjoy knowledge (not just appreciate, but actually enjoy, solely for the purpose of fun). I’m grateful for all the hardships and mistakes I’ve made because I think that’s the only way to become a truly well-rounded, empathetic adult. I also think this is where wisdom comes from. The wisest people I’ve ever talked to generally have had lives dramatically full of more failures than successes.
That’s not a weakness though, but a strength. Because they kept trying, despite failing, despite being wrong, despite ridicule, despite not being considered socially acceptable or politically correct or conforming, they tried until they found something that stuck.
I have infinitely more respect for those that can point out their own mistakes than to only ever point out other’s.
I’ve trained a few different teams throughout my career and I tell them over and over “We’re not afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes is a good thing. It’s the best way to learn.” That’s not to say that I hope my teams make lots of mistakes, but I want to prepare them for the inevitable. I’d rather they feel that making mistakes is something to always have an open discussion about than to be something they fear being chastised or reprimanded for to the point of it affecting their performance and progress.
My opinions are usually not very popular (when they’re actually understood, which unfortunately, is a minority of the time). I think it’s because they’re honest and it makes people feel uncomfortable, it’s easier to just dismiss me as being stupid or weird, but I could just be wrong as well. Every once in a while though, I’ll come across someone else that shares my viewpoint, not an occurrence that happens often for us who float out here on the fringes, but boy is it refreshing.
I came across this TEDTalk, and besides finding it to be spot on (in my bias of course), I also found it to be perhaps, the most uncomfortable and awkward (and hilariously so) TEDTalk I’ve ever seen because of the audience being forced to confront themselves with an almost paradoxical dilemma:
Until next time, cheers to making mistakes in the meantime!