Dare to Make Mistakes — Important Steps on the Road to Success
Don’t make a mistake. We’ve all been told this at some point in our lives. By teachers. By teammates. By colleagues. Even ourselves. It seems we’ve created a culture that views mistakes as taboo, because they’re nothing more than roadblocks toward success.
But what if that mindset is completely wrong? What if mistakes aren’t roadblocks, but are, in fact, stepping stones that get you closer to your eventual goal?
Rather than fear the sidestep and occasional fall from grace, it’s time to embrace our mistakes for what they are: essential in moving us away from the status quo.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.”
Thomas Edison, when explaining the invention of the light bulb, spoke those words. Time after time, Edison made so-called mistakes as he tried to perfect his world-altering innovation. But rather than view them as mistakes, Edison viewed these missteps as learning opportunities. With each “mistake” made, Edison took notes and changed his approach accordingly. Some 10,000 mistakes later, he changed the world.
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players (and athletes) of all time. It seemed every time the game was on the line, the Chicago Bulls could turn to him to carry them to glory.
Except, that’s far from reality. Sure, we think back to the successes Jordan had, but when you examine his career closely, you’ll discover that he missed far more shots than he made. One of the most cited quotes by Jordan explains this in perfect detail:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Is there a more popular book series in the world than the Harry Potter series? Isn’t it amazing, then, that the series was inches away from never being published? In fact, author JK Rowling was turned down by numerous publishers and was only picked up by one company because the CEOs 8-year-old daughter begged him to publish the book.
In other words, Rowling got lucky. Except, it wasn’t really luck that turned Rowling from a broke waitress on public assistance to one of the richest people on the planet. It was her willingness to fail and pick herself back up again.
Rowling has said that, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” In other words, her failures, or mistakes, forced her to focus on what mattered most in her endeavor. She knew her goal (to be published). Rather than cower after each rejection letter, she listened to the advice given to her, learned from her errors, gained new perspective on her working novel, and made changes accordingly.
She didn’t worry about becoming rich. She wasn’t concerned with whether one day her book would become a movie. She didn’t put more on her plate than she could handle. Stumbling through her mistakes and failures while revising her book forced Rowling to focus her energy on the steps directly in front of her.
And that’s why mistakes are essential toward achieving success
Let’s pretend that every time you sat behind the wheel of your car, you knew for certain that you’d safely get to your destination, no matter what. You could text to your heart’s content. You could take a nap. You could read a book. It wouldn’t matter, because you were 100% certain you’d reach your destination safe and sound
Imagine all that you’d miss along the way! What a boring ride you’d have. You’d be on autopilot, which is just a fancy way of saying you’d be numb to the world. Luckily, that isn’t reality. Every time you drive or walk somewhere, you know that there’s danger out there. You could crash or trip at any second, which is why you remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
The most successful people on earth are aware that their next big mistake is one moment way. Failures and mistakes keep us honest. They force us to focus on the road ahead and provide us with invaluable learning experiences to build upon. If you ignore your mistakes and view them, instead, as failures and roadblocks, you risk missing out on the lessons each error offers.
Rather than shy away from the mistakes in your life, embrace them as Thomas Edison, JK Rowling, and Michael Jordan have – as tiny steps that helped them reach their personal and professional goals.