When I graduated my undergraduate degree and started my first “grown-up” job, I quickly learned a simple but critical lesson; I have a great deal to learn. In fact, to this day, the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.
Unfortunately, one of the best ways that I learn is through making mistakes. Unfortunate in the sense that I have to make the mistakes in the first place. As someone who is constantly fighting the innate perfectionist within, this doesn’t sit well with me. In fact, I would tend to catatrophise even the smallest mistakes. We’re talking even making a little typo in a draft or an email to my boss. Don’t get me wrong; I made much bigger mistakes than these, which cost unnecessary time and resources. But it was not the size so much as the notion of making a mistake at all that really bothered me.
Not only is this kind of thinking self-destructive, but counter-productive.
The fear of failure can lead to a fear of trying. And to try is to live.
I will never enjoy making mistakes. But my attitude towards coping with mistakes has changed dramatically over time. The best way that I have found to cope?
Stay Positive. Forgive Yourself. Learn. Move on.
Making mistakes when you have tried is ok. They are bound to happen – that’s the joy of being human. The greater issue is not being willing to learn from mistakes and being too scared or, even worse, too proud to admit them.
Try to do what you can to make things right. And if you cannot do it in your own strength or if it is a big mistake, own the error and reach out. Always remember that you are not the only person who can learn from your mistakes.
English poet Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Forgive others for making mistakes. But more importantly (and definitely more difficult for me) forgive yourself. I truly believe that a mistake that you have learned from is not a waste of time.
I will always be one to try my hardest to give my best. But even when I do and my heart is in the right place, I will still make mistakes. In the kitchen. At uni. At work. When driving. With people. In my writing. And in life.
But I’m starting to be ok with that. Because the mistakes that I make don’t change or define who I am.
Always remember that.