Icame across this post this morning which has been lying dormant in my drafts folder since April last year and thought with the New Year upon us, it would be a good time to post.
The idea of mistakes being ‘momentous’ came to me as I was putting together the Creative Process Infographic early last year and discovering (by mistake no less), that a key process in creating good and compelling design was progressing through a series of errors and mistakes. And this got me thinking of the bigger picture, how mistakes help shape and direct our lives as a whole and more often than not, in a contructive and positive way. To that end I’ve come up with eight reasons why I believe we should embrace making mistakes and not let the fear of failure (common among many INFJs) prevent us from taking action.
The biggest risk of life is to risk nothing at all
1. Mistakes are necessary for growth.
They force you to step back, reevaluate, adapt and change – often for the better. They help you discover who you really are.
Mistakes in relationships will educate you as to what you need, what your own failings are, and how to counteract and address those issues. You learn, you grow, you get a valuable life lesson and your next relationship will be all the better for it. Although it may take a little longer as you’ll be less likely to settle.
I’ve tried many business ventures and the majority have been unsuccessful (in monetary terms). However the learning curve through those mistakes has been monumental. Again, mistakes enable further learning and the chance to grow and apply that learning to other entrepreneurial pursuits and life as a whole. At the very least you have educated and bettered yourself through taking risks and not being afraid to make mistakes.
Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything
Failure is a great teacher. ~ Bill Gates
2. Mistakes are necessary for creativity.
As mentioned in my aforementioned Creative Process Infographic post, the best and unique ideas often stem from mistakes, which I believe comes from an aspect of chaos theory. No matter how independent and creative we think we are, the fact is that we are a unique product of indoctrination made up of biases, prejudices, preferences that have been instilled through a lifetime of subtle manipulation. And so what we ‘think’ is actually a direct by-product of that. As such our ‘creative thoughts’ are tied to a limited framework, nothing is ever truly creative in this instance. Mistakes however, are random occurrences that exist outside this framework and as such, are truly creative moments. And through taking that mistake and utilising it, we help bring order to that chaos in one of many unique and innovative ways.
3. Mistakes are necessary for innovation.
Mistakes in business can be immensely profitable. Post-It notes, Velcro, and Cellophane were all products of mistakes resulting from a process to make something completely different. For example 3M were attempting to develop a superstrong glue for the aerospace industry and ended up with a very weak glue that allowed sheets of paper to be stuck and unstuck with relative ease. Instead of consigning this product to the bin, some bright innovative spark at 3M decided to utilise this product and 3M ended up developing the Post-It note.
On the other hand, fear of failure and of making mistakes can prove catastrophic. Those who are unwilling to take risks, to change, to adapt and run the risk of making mistakes will often fall by the wayside and end up losing out. No one can predict the future, so there is always a risk element. To progress you have to take a leap of faith and take a gamble. Kodak are a prime example of how fear of moving on and embracing new technologies (and one they actually invented – i.e. the digital camera) would result in their downfall.
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you sit there
The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’
Great article on the topic – Could Fear Of Failure Limit Your Success?
Is innovation the same as creativity? Quick Google search came up with the following
- Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual.
- Innovation is the implementation of something new.
So somebody has to take a risk and deliver something for a creative idea to be turned into an innovation
4. Mistakes keep you humble.
They bring you back to earth, shock the ego and show that you are fallible and human. This in turn helps instil understanding, empathy, prevents judgemental opinions and moulds character.
5. Mistakes help you get rid of fear.
The more mistakes you make, the more you get up and learn from them, the more you value the lessons they give you. Failure only comes when you give up.
Man in the Arena: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ~Teddy Roosevelt
6. Mistakes prevent you from living a life of regret.
If you are unafraid to make mistakes then chances are you’ll take more chances and when the opportunity arises you’ll take it with both hands. Most people on their deathbeds end up thinking of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ – top five regrets of the dying.
7. Mistakes make the best stories.
The best stories come about through triumph over adversity, through being knocked down and getting back up again – not from sailing through life from one success to another.
8. You can’t predict the future.
Mistakes will always be made, it’s how you choose to deal with those mistakes (in a negative or positive way) that will dictate your approach and path through life. Successful people make mistakes, and fail, and pick themselves up, and wipe away the tears.
If you want an interesting life of your very own, instead of just watching other people have fun on Netflix, you’re going to have to get very comfortable very quickly with making huge mistakes. Make big mistakes and learn from them. Do it enough, and you’ll start to relax as you realize that there’s no such thing as failure. There’s just life. Your life. ~ Carlota Zimmerman
If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner. ~ Tallulah Bankhead
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)