The Brilliance of Mistakes

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

~Oscar Wilde


Mistakes — we all make them. There’s not a single person past, present or future who hasn’t or won’t make them. They’re a fundamental part of the human experience, and it would simply be impossible to make any tangible progress without your fair share of them.

So why does there seem to be an overarching perception that mistakes are evil — like they’re something to be avoided at all costs? Or at the very least something to be swept under the rug?

I say it’s time to take a new approach to mistakes — a more effective and practical approach. An approach that’s conducive to unlimited growth and progress. In a nutshell, I think we should embrace our mistakes and actually view them as a good thing. As something positive that we can use to enhance our innate value and become the best possible version of ourselves.

But in order to make the shift to this type of mentality, it’s necessary to first realize the role that mistakes play in learning, attaining wisdom and in the grander scheme, enlightenment.

Without making mistakes, some of the most brilliant people would have never ascended to the level they’re at. Revolutionary inventions would have never been created — nor would we have all of the conveniences and luxuries that we so very much enjoy today.

Take for example Thomas Edison’s serial failures when attempting to invent the lightbulb. It’s well documented that it took him roughly 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before he finally got it right. Had Edison not of had this level of perseverance, human civilization may have never reached the stage in which it’s at today.  

Unfortunately, many people — especially those with perfectionistic tendencies are deathly afraid of doing the wrong thing and have what could be considered an irrational fear of making mistakes.

The problem with fearing mistakes is that this mindset can have a crippling effect where we become so paranoid with doing something wrong that we never even try to begin with. This is obviously problematic because it’s a massive roadblock to progress and a direct path to stagnation.

The truth is that even though humans are capable of great things, we’re inherently flawed by nature, and we’re constantly making mistakes. As a result, it’s really no big deal if you screw something up as long as it doesn’t have any catastrophic, irreversible consequences. In fact, I would venture to say that the vast majority of poor decisions and mistakes we make can be remedied quite easily.

When you know that you can dig yourself out of a hole in pretty much any situation, then all of a sudden the thought of making a mistake doesn’t seem so paralyzing anymore. Just chalk it up to experience.  And in many instances, the potential payoff of trying something new or going out on a limb greatly outweighs the minimal backlash you’ll experience if you do in fact fail.

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