The mistakes we make in life are our greatest gifts. Think about the last gift you got. Chances are that what you’re thinking about is something wrapped in paper, or Netflorist delivery. A Gift, is definitely not that time you accidentally dropped a glass on the floor. There is no way that you think of a gift as going bankrupt, having a business go under or breaking up with your partner because you cheated. Or is it?
Each mistake we make is a chance to learn and grow. We can take the 4 types of mistakes and see how we can use even stupid mistakes as an opportunity to strengthen our character and resolve.
These mistakes happen often. Simple mistakes are totally avoidable, but our decisions made them inevitable. You were having a get together and even though 15 people RSVP’d you only bought enough snacks for 10 people. When people showed up with unexpected guests, and your total jumped to 20 people in attendance, you were inevitably going to run out of food. Use these gifts as opportunities to assess your planning decisions. If you notice, you always are under-supplied, then you have learned a valuable lesson about your planning style and can avoid future simple mistakes. The more of these mistakes you make, the better at planning you will become.
Scott Berkun sums-up “stupid mistakes” as simple freak accidents, such as stubbing your toe, spilling a pitcher of water on a guest, tripping over your dog on your walk because they went to chase a squirrel. Most people simply take these moments as they come, deal with the frustration, and move on.
These stupid mistake moments are the greatest gifts that we get daily. These moments give us the choice and opportunity to change how we respond to things we don’t like. When was the last time you stubbed your toe? Did you yell, jump up and down, and curse, or did you lay there crying until the pain went away?
Choosing your response, rather than simply reacting during these moments, helps you train your emotional response in times of real stress. Try to be calm and neutral when you make stupid mistakes, they train you for better self-control when it matters.
If you’re chronically late to work, this type of mistake is an involved mistake. If you’re always late back from lunch. It is an involved mistake. We understand the mistake, but it takes effort to change the outcome. To prevent tardiness, you have to leave earlier. To come back from lunch on time, you start to pack your own lunch to eat in the office. These involved mistakes teach you how to change your own behaviour to achieve better outcomes.
Lifehacker highlights how we only learn from complex mistakes when we can dissect them. Breaking a mistake down into all its elements takes practice and a sounding board. The elements of the mistake are important to find because they can be areas in your life that are habitual. If you are distracted constantly, and you notice a good portion of your mistakes happen when distracted, it’s a good time to become present minded. Identifying mistake makers that are habitual in our lives allows us to learn and grow as people.
Finding a sounding board that can give you honest feedback is an unparalleled resource when turning mistakes into gifts. Your sounding board could be a journal you write in, your spouse, a colleague, a therapist or a mentor. Whoever or whatever you select to be your sounding board, make sure you will accept honest feedback about the situation, so you can look for ways to improve upon yourself and learn from your mistakes.
Learning from your mistakes is a great way to see the gifts that the universe is trying to give you. You can get the gift of self-control, planning, behaviour modification, and situational analysis. You only get these gifts however, if you use your mistakes to your advantage. Stop thinking of mistakes as a bad thing and look at them as opportunities to grow.