Why It’s Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes

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“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Does fear of failure hold you back?  Don’t be the person in your life that holds you back.

Be the first person that picks you up when you fall down.

Perfectionism can get in the way of your best results.  Don’t let it push your off your path.  Mistakes are a part of life.  You can either embrace them and find the lessons, or you can try to avoid them and become a shadow of your potential self.

In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns shares his insights on why it’s great to be able to make mistakes.

Why It’s Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes

Burns writes the following:

  1. I fear mistakes because I see everything in absolutist, perfectionist terms — one mistake and the whole is ruined. This is erroneous. A small mistake certainly doesn’t ruin an otherwise fine whole.
  2. It’s good to make mistakes because then we learn — in fact, we won’t learn unless we make mistakes. No one can avoid making mistakes — and since it’s going to happen in any case, we may as well accept it and learn from it.
  3. Recognizing our mistakes helps us adjust our behavior so that we can get results we’re more pleased with — so we might say that mistakes ultimately operate to make us happier and to make things better.
  4. If we fear making mistakes, we become paralyzed — we’re afraid to do or try anything, since we might (in fact, probably will) make some mistakes. If we restrict our activities so that we won’t make mistakes, then we are really defeating ourselves. The more we try and the more mistakes we make, the faster we’ll learn, and the happier we’ll be ultimately.
  5. Most people aren’t going to be mad at us or dislike us because we make mistakes — they all make mistakes, and most people feel uncomfortable around “perfect” people.
  6. We don’t die if we make mistakes.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  1. The make mistakes path is unlimited.  I think contrasting two paths, helps illustrate the point. The fear of failure path is limiting and stressful. The make mistakes and learn path is unlimited.
  2. Avoiding mistakes limits your growth.  If you operate under a mindset where you can’t take chances or make mistakes, you limit your growth and your experiences. Additionally, you get worse at dealing with mistakes because you always try to avoid them.
  3. Make mistakes and learn.  If you operate under the mindset that you can make mistakes and learn, you stay in the game, grow and adapt. I think you also get better at dealing with mistakes. This can be anything from your own self-talk, to a support network, to your approaches for learning.
  4. It’s when you stop getting on your horse, that you slide down.  If you keep getting knocked off your horse, but you keep getting back on, you get stronger, faster, and continue to climb. I think in life you’re either climbing or sliding, and it’s when you stop getting on your horse that you slide down.

If you can’t make mistakes, you’re limited.

If you are free to make mistakes, and learn, you are limitless.

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