Did you ever have a day when everything seemed to go wrong? Was it a day when every action seemed to be the wrong action?
Mistakes are a great indicator of where we are in life. We all make mistakes. Some are happy mistakes while others seem to be a catastrophe. I have used the term “happy mistakes” in a variety of circumstances.
In one instance I was in art class creating my latest masterpiece and grabbed the wrong chemical to finish my art project. Instead of selecting a finishing glaze, I grabbed a bottle of something the equivalent of turpentine. I washed my creation with the “glaze” and it reacted! Ouch!! The paint bubbled up. I asked the instructor what to do and she told me to stop and let the chemical interaction occur. Set the art aside and see the result the next week. My contemporary artwork took on a totally different quality! My chemical interaction became another way of painting, uniquely my own.
Though this sounds calm and easy, in truth, it took me days to get over my “stupid mistake”. The week before the next class reminded me of how self-criticism gets stuck in our minds until we come to a point of resolution. You can only imagine the thoughts parading through my mind. Ultimately those thoughts calmed when I realized all I could do was surrender and let next week tell the story. The result was the development of a new experimental art technique, as the “disaster” became a deliberate way of painting! This “happy accident” created a new open door raising my willingness to experiment, trust the unknown result and experience a mistake. Its funny how hard I was on myself for a whole week only to discover I had designed a new technique in art! I began to call these mistakes “happy accidents”.
Mistakes come in so many forms its hard to limit them to just one aspect of life. They have occurred in articles I have written, a failure to read directions, discussions with others and almost any other situation in life. Admitting a mistake is no cause to deny your pride. After all, those who deny that they even make a mistake are either not in tune with the opportunity a mistake can offer or resist growth.
I have come to realize my Grandfather’s perspective: to learn from your mistakes really has substance. One important key in reviewing the mistake is to determine what was occurring at the time the mistake occurred. Be clear: were you paying attention to the situation at hand, did you lack sufficient knowledge, were you distracted or interrupted by another thought, did you provide your own information or interpretation to a situation or were you simply trying to get the task done quickly? With any example, you can determine your own response and learning.
Clearly I realized through life’s mistakes that no one is tougher on me than I am on myself. Making mistakes is part of life and always presents opportunities to learn. Accepting my imperfection is important, but more impactful is getting to a place of calm. I retrace the situation and review what I was doing at the time. Sometimes I am distracted with a mind that is not on the task. Sometimes I am in a rush to get to the next activity. While other times I am taking steps where I have not listened carefully. Let any judgment or worry go. Reflection opens the door to what has occurred. Better the mistake becomes a new learning about your behavior. It’s easier to laugh at yourself than to beat yourself up!
How have you treated yourself when a mistake occurs? Have you reflected on the occurrence? Have you learned something new about yourself that alters your behavior or opens the door to opportunity?
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