No. 21 – Mistakes are Practice

No. 21 – Mistakes are Practice

Dear One,

My intention is to offer you discoveries which aided my traversing darkness to find Light – such that this serves you in possibly growing from adversity or upleveling … perhaps to an even better place.

My journey was partly aided by realizing ‘Mistakes are Practice.’

Prior to illness and a 2017 of difficulty galore, my perception was that avoiding mistakes aided successful endeavors.  Sometimes, however, not always.  Errors may be an “invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that no longer serve you well,” per Adam Grant in ‘Think Again.’

Perfectionistic tendencies previously held me back from taking risks to discover new ways of thinking and healing.  This prevented me Accepting and learning from occasional (or more than occasional) mistakes. 

Internal, self-blame and self-judgment made mistakes, even rather small ones, feel big.  Like very big.  Sidestepping uncomfortable risks and mistake-making out of fear of being wrong felt like a better hustle.  This was rather exhausting and, in the long run, held back growth. 

In studying how people successfully do hard ‘stuff,’ my eyes and mind were opened regarding mistakes. 

“If you want to do something special with your life, there’s no way around the inevitable mistakes,” per Sean Croxton. 

Getting ‘it’ wrong – whatever ‘IT’ is – and making mistakes is part of eventually figuring out how to Get ‘It’ Right(er).

In ‘The Obstacle is the Way,’ Ryan Holiday notes “mistakes are training.”  This sage tip or ‘Mistakes are Practice’ – quoted regularly – aided inching through dark difficulty and allowed for Process Over Perfection to keep moving forward bit by bit.

Instead of stopping myself when feeling afraid to fail or intolerant of loss, I tried out new concepts and took risks – which included mistakes – for eventual, sometimes benefits. 

In implementing and practicing Mistakes are Practice,

• solutions and knowledge from errors that I problem solved seemed retained longer term.  Fix ups and solutions that result from working through mess ups feel more embedded in my head,

• leaning into more of an attitude of ‘oh well, Mistakes are Practice’ felt surprisingly liberating.  I could take risks and try what I might previously not have.  Holding back from risk taking likely would have meant missed realizations,

• confidence and self-esteem seemed boosted when bellyflops forced finding improved solutions,

• mistakes can be steppingstones to a ‘better’ way.  “Fail fast, fail often” is noted here as the “mentality of startups, where it’s accepted that striking out is not just something to be endured, but a critical step on the path to success,”

• research by Dashun Wang, Benjamin Jones and Yang Wang showed, per above, that “early failure can in fact breed later success.”  Wang said, “the losers ended up being better.” Refreshing and hope inducing, eh? 

• there’s no denying that “failure is devastating [and that’s not the intent here] … it can also fuel people” per Wang,

•saying ‘tada!’ after goofing takes ownership of error(s) and can lighten – even if a little bit – a heavy feeling mess up.  When I think to do it, that is, and/or

• tolerating mistakes appears to reduce pressure on others around you who may feel inclined to perfectionize. 

When a lacrosse ball mistakenly landed in a cereal bowl right before a big meeting, through slightly gritted teeth, I (attempted) a kind, compassionate response.  Saying ‘Mistakes are Practice’ kept my peace – which I covet – over a not big deal while the lacrosse practice-er saw Acceptance and Pause, Pray/Meditate, Wait, Silence in Action.  A brief Break out of the room to breathe before reacting while saying this phrase aloud resulted in the more tolerant, generous approach being appreciated – and remembered.  No balls have since made cereal landings. 

I am, as always, a work in progress and I am still working on this.  By considering that Mistakes really are Practice, there’s more freedom to learn and grow. 

Perhaps consider mulling the words of wise Sean Croxton as this wraps; “no one ever achieved anything exceptional without massively goofing along the way.”

With my sincere belief in you – and that oopsie-ing may truly be ok – to find your ‘better’ way,


Original Email Date:  September 27, 2020

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