THERE’S MORE TO IT — “I thought I was wrong once … but I was mistaken,” and other classic one liners and popular t-shirt slogans from my childhood in the 70s still make me smile. Perhaps it was the first time irony was not lost on my developing mind, but I thought they were so clever and funny. Of course, this exposed me to a whole world of sparkly iron-on slogans that would bring a new sophistication to my sense of humour.
Up until then I think I was afraid to acknowledge my childish mistakes. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? A bold face lie while being caught red-handed, in the proverbial cookie jar? And for some stupid reason, the more obviously busted I was, the more intent I was to hold to my lie. Maybe those t-shirt slogans gave me the courage to admit that everybody makes mistakes, and it was OK for me too.
What I mean by OK, is that it’s normal. To err is human, etc., but it’s not necessarily good or without consequence. Often our mistakes make things bad for a while, But I do know that some of the best growth can come when manure happens in our life.
Just a few days ago, a very successful friend of mine said “failures are inevitable – learning from them is optional.” That slogan has been ringing my ears like a 70s t-shirt revelation.
If we could just stop lying like a child to ourselves and others about our mistakes and failures, maybe we could take the next step and start learning from them.
Maybe if we were willing to take a clear and honest look at the things we repeatedly fail at, we might see the flaws as opportunities to learn from and overcome. Successful people seem to do it this way: they persevere, face the facts and seek to improve.
It’s well known history that the famous inventor, Thomas Edison, was told by his teachers he was “too stupid to learn anything.” To add salt to that wound, he was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” In his effort to make the lightbulb work, he had 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at finding a filament that would last. When asked, “How it felt to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Maybe those were simpler times and a life punctuated with failure could emerge more easily.
Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team.
He has been quoted as saying “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, that’s why I succeed.”
So what about you and me? Are we going find the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed from our mistakes?