By Roli S
Another new year is here, which means it’s time to
make a resolution or two. So, what will it be this year: lose weight, again; promise yourself a change of job, again; earn more money, perhaps? The truth is, most of us will do the same thing we always do: set some goals that will be forgotten sooner than later. So, this year I’m proposing something different. And the goal-setting gurus will hate me for it. I propose to do nothing. Don’t set any resolutions or goals but challenge yourself to make more and more mistakes! Sounds crazy? Not entirely, because if you sit back and think, mistakes will happen however much you try not to make them. It’s the easiest resolution one can make. To make mistakes.
I do not regret admitting that, during the last decade, I have made many mistakes and I have enjoyed making those mistakes, because I have come out stronger, wiser and more accommodative of things around. I remember in the past standing in classrooms after distributing answer sheets of tests conducted and telling my students, “Count the number of mistakes you have made. Why do you make such silly mistakes? Why have you made this deliberate mistake? You cannot make such careless mistakes.” Then I remember also telling them, “Learn from your mistakes. Make sure you do not repeat your mistakes.” During those moments I used to look at them and think about the long journey of life ahead where they were bound to make many mistakes. It was unavoidable to do that, but I hoped that the mistakes that they made would make them richer and wiser and not break their hearts to the point of no return!
There are many beauties to making mistakes. Mistakes remind us all that we are human. Mistakes provide the wisdom and experience we would otherwise miss out on. One may make a million mistakes; one just may not make the same one twice. Making the same mistake over and over again renders one a slow learner and a poor leader. So, the question is, how could one possibly benefit by doing something wrong?
I can say that our mistakes make us stronger and we are no longer afraid of new experiences. By learning from our mistakes, our good judgement will develop, making us better decision makers. As Albert Einstein’s said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Often people are never ready to admit their own mistakes but make excuses and blame others for their mistakes. I have seen it happening in my classrooms, in my corporate office and in my own house and also amidst family and friends. Very few people are willing to own up to a mistake and when that happens, these people keep repeating their mistakes and do not learn from them.
How many times have we come across a relative or co-worker who thinks he or she never makes a mistake because of unnecessary pride and ego? Making and admitting mistakes teaches us a valuable lesson in humility. It makes us humble and we no longer laugh at or loathe mistakes made by others or criticise them unfairly.
When we are on a mission to lose weight and end up having a hearty meal loaded with carbs and fat, we live with guilt after making a mistake and berate ourselves for days together till it becomes painful .We should forgive ourselves for our mistakes first and move on. Never feel bad as mistakes are an opportunity to learn and create a better us. When we learn that, we realise that mistakes committed by others which may have hurt us also need to be forgiven from the depth of our hearts to value relationships.
How often as parents do we kill the spark of creativity in our children early on in their lives by insisting they do not make any mistakes, when the fact is creativity thrives with mistakes. Doing creative work is a process of making mistakes, repeatedly, until one finds something that sticks; and most creative people learn not to take mistakes and failure so personally. Resilience and overcoming mistakes through innovation is a prerequisite for creative success.
When I look around me, I find friends, family, acquaintances who are so uptight and take being serious, too, far. It is such a miserable task for them to laugh at themselves and make light of a mistake. Instead, we place tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves and feel miserable because our egos may see laughing at ourselves as a threat but, in reality, humor is a powerful tool and laughing at oneself and our mistakes is an efficient method to bring joyfulness into our lives.
Often mistakes made by me has given me a chance to analyse what it was that I did wrong and if I get into the same situation next time around, will I be smarter? Will I make that phone call? Will I buy that outfit? Will I accept that job? Will I say that sentence? Though I may probably still not know the right solution, but I already know one that doesn’t work! This is empowering isn’t it?
I admit that mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later this collection of mistakes, called experience, leads us to success so we must not be afraid of making mistakes. Life is change, things go wrong, and life goes on.
I hope that in this year to come, I continue to make mistakes. Because if I am making mistakes, then I am making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing myself, changing myself, changing the world I live in. I am doing things I’ve never done before and, more importantly, I am doing something without the fear of failure, being laughed at and being wrong!
(Roli S is an Educator, Teacher Trainer, Author and School Reviewer based in Mumbai.)