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Positive Blunders

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Positive Blunders

Mistakes that help us grow.
Jeff  Johnson
Jeff Johnson More by this author
Jul 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM

You’ve come a long way on your journey. You’ve created a picture of yourself as a whole person, determined where you want this person to go, made a leap of faith, created your strategy, and started walking. Then you mess it all up. What do you do now?

You need to find a mirror. Seriously, stop here and find a mirror. It doesn’t matter the size or shape, but I want you to look at yourself and tell yourself: I AM GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES.

Remember it. It’s critical not only to your advancement to your personal best, but to your very survival. Knowing that you’re going to make mistakes sets you up to overcome and move beyond them before you make them because if you accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes, you’ll be emotionally prepared to deal with the psychological pain associated with temporary failure and setbacks.

The best way to wrap your head around learning from mistakes is to realize two very important things. First, not every mistake is the same. Just like there is bad cholesterol and good cholesterol, bad debt and good debt, bad stress and good stress, there are bad mistakes and good mistakes. The trick is in knowing the difference.

Second, not every mistake is bad. Have you ever heard the phrase “happy accident?” That’s kind of what happened to Steven Spielberg, director of Jaws, and Dr. Pemberton, a pharmacist who invented a headache remedy and ended up inventing Coca-Cola. What started out as a high-tech shark movie turned into something completely different—and better. What started out as a hangover remedy turned into something completely different—and better. Your job is to know which mistake is which, and to believe that every mistake has something to teach us.

Most of our mistakes fall into one of three classes, which I call the three “I”s: intentional mistakes, ignorant mistakes, and inescapable mistakes. The three “I”s are mistakes we are inevitably forced to deal with on our journey. Let’s begin with a brief description of each type of mistake, and I’ll offer strategies required to move past them.

The Three “I”s

Intentional mistakes are those things you do that you know are a bad idea from the beginning—but you do them anyway. You give yourself three or four reasons why you shouldn’t make the decision, and you may even have played out some of the consequences in your mind. However, you overruled your good instincts. You wanted to date that person, or you wanted to take that trip, and you had to buy that car. When the sky starts to fall and you are up to your neck in storm clouds, there is no one to blame, no one to look at but the person looking back at you in the mirror. You did this with full knowledge, and now you must use that same knowledge to make better decisions next time.

Ignorant mistakes are those errors that result from a decision you made without having all the information you needed. Perhaps you rushed to make the decision, failed to gather all the necessary information, depended too much on someone’s advice—or any of a thousand other reasons that indicate you acted before you fully assessed the situation or understood the next step. Most of the mistakes people make fall into this category.

Inescapable mistakes are those mistakes that you really couldn’t have done anything to avoid. You gathered all the information you could, and made responsible decisions that considered your vision. Still, you made the wrong decision.

No matter the type of mistake, we’re all going to make them. The reality is that no matter how visionary, smart, or driven we are, there’s an innate imperfection that we’re cloaked with because we are human. I believe that this imperfection is a built-in ego check system installed by God (the creator, the universe, or whatever you believe created you). Can you imagine how inflated our egos would be if we were perfect? Some of us are difficult enough to deal with, and we’re flawed; imagine how difficult we’d be to deal with if we were perfect! This built-in ego check, on its best day, helps us realize that we cannot do it all alone, that we’re not the beginning and end of creation, and that there’s an inherent value in other people. These unavoidable mistakes make us human. So take a deep breath, embrace that sigh of relief, and say aloud: I don’t have to be perfect.

About Author
Jeff  Johnson
Jeff Johnson is the host of BET’s The Truth with Jeff Johnson, and a weekly commentator on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. Johnson’s interviews truly “represent” 21st-century America—showcasing grass-roots organizers Continue reading