How many times have you made a poor choice in life? I’m pretty sure mine are innumerable. Sometimes we know we are making a careless decision yet we do it anyway, and there are other times when we feel we are on the right track but have miscalculated our journey. Regardless, we are human, and humans make mistakes.
1. an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
2. a misunderstanding or misconception
As an educator, I find myself often encouraging others to turn their mistakes into learning opportunities. Learning through life is the “L” in R.E.A.L; it’s part of my mantra. So, when I’m mentoring students or other educators or even my teenage son, you might hear me say something like this, “Yah, you made a mistake and yes, sometimes a relationship (or trust) is damaged, but what have you learned from this? How will you do things differently in the future? Or, how might you pay it forward and help others not to make the same mistake? If they are feeling defeated, I’ll remind them, “It’s not the time to throw in the towel; it’s time to grow from this situation. There are so many opportunities that lie ahead now that you have this in your past.” I can give that advice fairly easily when it is directed at someone else.
However, when it’s me standing in need of such counseling, I beat myself up over stupid decisions–especially when I didn’t follow my gut feeling. I’m so in my head, and the thoughts racing around in my mind can drive me absolutely batty. I want to make it right and fix it…like right now! That is just a piece of my over-reflective character, but sometimes that particular mistake can’t be fixed. The damage is done. But, when I allow my mind to dwell on the thought of giving up, I have to shake myself and say, I may not be able to rewind and redo my actions, but I do have future opportunities to be successful. I can’t change the past, but I can change the future. So cliché yet so true. What did I learn about those involved in this situation? What did I learn about myself?
I love this quote posted by Jeff Zoul this morning,
“Quit now. You’ll never make it. If you disregard this advice, you’re halfway there.”
My next question is almost always, how can I turn this yucky situation into something amazing? I spent half of my life doing just that. At times like this, I reflect and draw strength from my past to propel forward. I KNOW what it’s like to overcome. I was born as a “mistake” from a circumstance labeled as a mistake and often was called a mistake, but look at the opportunities that have come out of this life of mine.
When doubt sets in and tries to consume your mind, stand up and be confident. It’s not over. Mentor yourself just as you would mentor your students or those you serve. You’re human. Humans make mistakes. What comes next is the game changer. Will you allow your mistakes to become opportunities for growth, opportunities to shake the foundations of this Earth, opportunities to do something no one else has yet achieved, or quite possibly opportunities to share your lessons learned to help those within your realm of influence?
Let’s view our mistakes through a different lens. Why not? What else will you do with them? Cry about it forever? What good will come out of such actions? It’s not over. In fact, you’re now stronger and wiser.
Allow your mistakes to give birth to new opportunities.