Become a Connoisseur of Your Mistakes

“The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them – especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial, … you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which, in a way they are.” Daniel Dennet

Many of us want to shrink when we make a mistake. We deny that we’ve made one or we hesitate to own our part. While it may seem easier to avoid ‘consequences’ – the truth is we (almost) always  feel the consequences one way or the other. For instance, if we avoid taking risks for fear of looking foolish – we deprive ourselves of opportunities to grow and learn. Not good.

If we take a big risk… e.g. wholeheartedly sponsor a big project at work… and it goes well; we might get that promotion. If it fails, we will suffer from the ‘slings and arrows’ of people’s looks and possible gossip. But who learned? You did. While they were sitting back and judging you, you were out there talking, promoting, learning, growing and gaining visibility. Instead of hiding from your mistakes; what if you embraced them? what if you just say, “Wow, I made a mistake. I learned a lot and I won’t make that mistake again.” Imagine how confident you would seem and feel.

Billy Joel has a great line in his song… You’re Only Human:

“You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own”

If mistakes are the only thing I can truly call my own, then I should make MORE not less. We encourage our small children to make mistakes and assure them that it’s ok when they do. Then they get to be teens; we start to bear down on them — don’t make mistakes!. As adults, we are mortified when it happens to us. Why? Because we are afraid to look anything less than perfect. We set a better example when we own our risks/mistakes.  We then have the satisfaction of knowing that we created something – all my own. Smile, it’s just a mistake.

Photo credit: Hand over mouth Mel B.

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2 Comments

  • By Carl Hoffman, September 27, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    Over 21 years ago I got a big promotion in a company that had 5 years life left. In the process I bought a big house and drove a BMW to keep up the image. Before I bought the big house I asked my dad about it. He said, “You need to play by the rules of your generation and not mine because we were too conservative.” Most of my life I have played the safe route. In retrospect that was a big mistake because my generation rewards or punishes risk takers. By taking the safe route you are guaranteed punishment. I found that out the hard way. Now I am still playing the safe route with the big house paid off, and my daily driver is no longer a BMW but a humble Prius V. I live debt free but I am launching out on an endeavor that will require a modest investment. I plan to write a book and use technology to market it instead of the traditional way. In the past this was called “Vanity Press.” I am hopeful I can break out of my safe mindset and meet some success. In the recent issue of Forbes Magazine it listed the richest 400 Americans. They are described as “Self Made,” “Inherited,” or “Inherited and growing.” I hope my wealth will be described as “Inherited and growing” instead of merely “Inherited.”

  • By Deborah, September 27, 2013 @ 8:45 am

    So excited for your adventure. Regardless of the outcome, you will reap all the rewards of living life on your own terms. In addition, you model for younger family members and others close to you. The world is increasingly complex so they will need to learn to continuously how to adapt. You are shining the light on the path!
    Proud of you Carl, rock on!

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