For every mistake, there is a positive reality…
I have a perspective about mistakes. I have made mistakes, i still make mistakes and I’ll continue to make mistakes. My error rate has been drastically reduced and will continue to reduce; but my potential for error will remain.
One of the greatest qualities of a great leader is that he knows how to make mistakes. Many times, we dread the idea of making mistakes so much that we no longer strife to get things right, rather we work not to get things wrong. For the former, the benchmark is success; and for the latter, the benchmark is error. We have this fear of making mistakes and because of that we often do not make decisions. It compels us to live in a state of decisive existence; and ending up recognizing all the things we could have done and how we could have done it and never did. This is the thought you need to understand: Trying to avoid making mistakes is like trying not to breath. What happens with that is that sooner or later, you are going to have to do it. Sooner or later, you are going to have to breathe no matter how you try not to.
The truth is, all men fall, small men never rise, but smart men pick something up from the fall as they get up. There’s always a positive reality behind every mistake, no matter how devastating the error is. There’s always a significant lesson to learn. It is not a motivational idea to see mistakes as a ladder. It is nature. It is life. It is impossible not to make mistakes as it is impossible not to breathe. We don’t try not to breathe because breathing is essential, critical and it is nature. You don’t make a decision never to eat again, except you have a strategy for suicide. It’s nature to eat. There’s no human being that can make a resolve never to sleep again. It’s nature to sleep. I can go on and on. Once it’s nature, human response must be to accept and celebrate it. If you live, you must breathe. If you eat, you must pass excreta…you must use the toilet. If you make efforts, you will succeed. But there’s no effort without the possibility of failure. If failure is not a possibility, victory will be meaningless. And error is the pathway to both failure and success. We rejoice after a victory because of the possibility of failure. If error is not possible, failure will be meaningless. There is no human in the world who has not made mistakes. There is no human being living that is not making mistakes and will not continue to make. At our best, our right actions will outweigh the wrong one but both must exist. It’s life. It’s nature. It’s not a substitute and it’s not a choice.
It is therefore a duty and a critical part of the human life to accept mistakes as life and nature’s way of presenting us with the opportunities to learn something. This is not something you make yourself believe, it is something to accept as truth or suffer from not accepting it. Just like you cannot hate water, you cannot hate mistakes. Now, because you can drown in water and people have drowned in water, does that mean you shouldn’t drink water? Does that mean water does not have a good purpose and plays a key role? These are questions for the soul. We all possess the ability to control the certain variables of which the idea of striving with mistakes is one.
Mistakes are a critical part of life. Yet, most people know but don’t apply themselves to this truth. I have noticed that one of the key differences between me and most of my peers who didn’t do too well in their journey of life is their reception to this truth. They know that mistakes are a part of life but they still do not apply themselves and engage it as they should. Rather, they allow themselves to be drowned by regrets, self-pity and sentiments. It seems to me that while they know that mistakes are a part of life, they do not know how critical it is to life. But you have the choice to see it differently today and to apply yourself to how critical it is.
As a leader, I owe it to myself and my visionary commitments to do my best to make the best quality decision I can. But when the outcome of my decision does not turn out like I would have liked, then I will consider it as a part of the learning process and use my mistake to make a better decision in the future. Opportunities once lost, can always be regained. In fact, they come in a better package than the previous. After each mistake, the opportunity to do better will always come, and my lessons from a mistake will be a tool in my next experience. Consider mistakes as valuable tools for future success.
It is an interesting reality that many of our most valuable lessons in life were learnt from the mistakes we have made as well as the victories we have celebrated. It’s design. It’s nature. The question of life is never about whether I will fail but that whether I will learn a lesson. Big mistakes can cripple us with fear and make us cut our dreams short. Our challenge as a leader is to not allow mistakes to clip our wings to dream. We have a duty to celebrate mistakes as common things in leadership. We all make them, no matter who we are.
In looking at my life, though I’ve had the many privilege of delivering results through thorough strategic planning; you may be shocked by how many foolish mistakes I have made, how many risky and foolish actions I have taken and how often and strangely, I made some of my best moves not by thorough strategic planning, but rather by accident. It works! It keeps us humble, and helps us to know that the best of ourselves is not always in our head; and the best of us is despite our frailties and imperfections. Those who seek perfection never see perfect peace. Don’t ask me why, but those who accept their humanity, find amazing levels of strength and genius. I also know that I wouldn’t have stumbled into these things if I wasn’t moving. Let’s keep moving, in a preferred and necessary direction especially; maybe we’ll keep stumbling and somehow, stumble into key ideas, key relationships, stumble into purpose and destiny or relevance.