Mistakes. I’ve made a few.
In fact, I’ve made a whole bunch over the course of my life. Turns out, I’m pretty good at it.
I’ve started and failed a couple businesses.
My first marriage lasted 20 months before ending in divorce.
I totaled my very first car, which my parents had given me for my 16th birthday, four months after I got it.
And, my behavior has been cringe-worthy at certain times in my life. I’ve failed my friends. I’ve disappointed those closest to me.
But every mistake and failure has played an important role in shaping who I am today.
Particularly in an age of curated Facebook reality, it can feel as if none of our friends or acquaintances make mistakes or have setbacks. As a result, it’s natural to want to hide from our failures and pretend they don’t exist.
Hiding from our failures is a mistake, because within each is a hidden opportunity for learning and growth. These lessons are powerful and often lasting because they come packaged with the pain of the experience from which they were born.
Wrecking my car at age 16 taught me a pretty critical lesson about keeping your eyes on the road while driving. Turns out, reaching across your vehicle while you’re driving is a really bad idea. I paid a heavy price to learn that lesson. To this day, if I even contemplate reaching for something in my car, I get a wave of nervous energy that reminds me it’s a bad idea.
Having someone close to you describe how you have hurt them and seeing the pain on their face is an unmatched motivator to do better in the future—to BE better in the future.
Failure is a powerful teacher. And, failing can teach us a lot about ourselves…if we look for the lessons.
When things don’t go your way or you flame out in epic fashion, embrace the opportunity for growth. What’s important isn’t the failure, but what you do afterward.
Do you keep making the same mistakes? Or do you use the experience to become better?
Use these questions to help you find the lesson within your failures.
- What did I do to contribute to this situation?
- What would I choose to do differently in the future?
- What lesson would I share with others about this experience?
- What do I know now that I didn’t know before this happened?
- What did I learn about myself through this experience?
When you spend time turning your failures and mistakes into learning and growth, something magical starts to happen:
You stop being afraid of failing.
You start getting more comfortable with taking risks.
And you learn more about who you really are.