Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why It's Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes

Does fear of failure hold you back? In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes why it's great to be able to make mistakes.

Why It's Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes
Burns writes the following:

  1. I fear mistakes because I see everything in absolutist, perfectionist
    terms -- one mistake and the whole is ruined. This is erroneous. A
    small mistake certaintly doesn't ruin an otherwise fine whole.
  2. It's good to make mistakes because then we learn -- in fact, we won't learn unless we make mistakes. No one can avoid making mistakes -- and since it's going to happen in any case, we may as well accept it and learn from it.
  3. Recognizing our mistakes helps us adjust our behavior so that we can get results we're more pleased with -- so we might say that mistakes ultimately operate to make us happier and to make things better.
  4. If we fear making mistakes, we become paralyzed -- we're afraid to do or try anything, since we might (in fact, probably will) make some mistakes. If we restrict our activities so that we won't make mistakes, then we are really defeating ourselves. The more we try and the more mistakes we make, the faster we'll learn, and the happier we'll be ultimately.
  5. Most people aren't going to be mad at us or dislike us because we make mistakes -- they all make mistakes, and most people feel uncomfortable around "perfect" people.
  6. We don't die if we make mistakes.

Key Take Aways
I think contrasting two paths, helps illustrate the point. The fear of failure path is limiting and stressful. The make mistakes and learn path is unlimited.

If you operate under a mindset where you can't take chances or make mistakes, you limit your growth and your experiences. Additionally, you get worse at dealing with mistakes because you always try to avoid them.

If you operate under the mindset that you can make mistakes and learn, you stay in the game, grow and adapt. I think you also get better at dealing with mistakes. This can be anything from your own self-talk, to a support network, to your approaches for learning. If you keep getting knocked off your horse, but you keep getting back on, you get stronger, faster, and continue to climb. I think in life you're either climbing or sliding, and it's when you stop getting on your horse that you slide down.

My Related Posts