Facing the Mistake of Life III

Life is simply time given to man to learn how to live. Mistakes are always part of learning. The real dignity of life consists in cultivating a fine attitude towards our own mistakes and those of others. It is the fine tolerance of a fine soul. Man becomes great, not through never making mistakes, but by profiting by those he does make; by being satisfied with a single rendition of a mistake, not encoring it into a continuous performance; by getting from it the honey of new, regenerating inspiration with no irritating sting of morbid regret; by building better today because of his poor yesterday; and by rising with renewed strength, finer purpose and freshened courage every time he falls.

In great chain factories, power machines are specially built to test chains—to make them fail, to show their weakness, to reveal the mistakes of workmanship. Let us thank God when a mistake shows us the weak link in the chain of our living. It is a new revelation of how to live. It means the rich red blood of a new inspiration.

What inspires you? What really gets you going? If you look at your world with equanimity and perspective, you would likely realize that virtually every element of your day – regardless of whether it could be judged to be “good” or “bad” – could and should be used to advantage. The problems and difficulties in life come to you via a variety of delivery systems, at times as a result of your own actions, often at the hand of others and occasionally by chance, but regardless of how they arrive at your doorstep, you will either handle them perfectly, less-than-perfectly or not at all.

He who wishes to excel in the living of life must come to the point in himself where he gives his highest and finest regardless of what he faces or how it came to him. In other words, without excuse! In so doing he may make mistakes or even face circumstances where even his best is insufficient to carry the day, but the fact is that if he offers his finest unapologetically, unreservedly and more often than not unceremoniously, he will grow and advance where others shrivel and retreat.

I must say that I was a bit dismayed by our President’s recent declaration: “This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield.” On the surface it appears to be a stance of great strength and unflappable resolve, but I have to wonder if it really is nothing more than an admission of his subjection to the problem. A quick scan of history reveals that the truly great leaders find it in themselves to remain above the problems they are charged to steward. Sure they have empathy and deep personal ties to the matters at hand, but they transcend them in a way that inspires others to believe in their ability to overcome. Rather than say “this may bring my presidency down” why not say “This is the way through, I know it to my core. Follow me.”

Our country is drowning in debt generated as a result of poor planning and judgment, aka a mistake, yet I have not heard a single person in all of the blustery proclamations actually say simply “I/we made a mistake.” If you don’t recognize it can you really move on? If you don’t admit it to yourself, aren’t you likely to get yourself in the same hot water at a later date? If it works on the level of the individual, it can surely come to pass with regard to the whole.


8 thoughts on “Facing the Mistake of Life III

  1. Wilbur George

    Thanks for your posts on Mistakes and how best to handle them. I have learned over the years that when investing in the stock market, for example, one will make many mistakes. The key is to recognize them early on and sell them taking a small loss. The opposite, unfortunately,is usually the case however, especially for the small or individual investor where they hang on to a bad investment until it becomes too late and they sustain a huge loss instead of a tiny one. Why – ego and the unwillingness to admit a bad trade and the hope that it will turn around tomorrow! And of course it rarely just turns around by itself does it!

    When one studies the successful traders they discover that they have the habit of cutting their losses short (they have plenty of them by the way) and riding the momentum of their gains for all that they are worth. No ego involved – just good practical common sense.


  2. Duffer

    Wow – where to begin when it comes to discussing mistakes and what to do with them. I guess that we could start with looking at the streets lined with failure; bankrupt companies and families for example where likely it all began with perhaps one wrong decision (mistake) and nobody was willing to look at it so it simply continued until it became so big that nothing could be done about it. And perhaps shame associated with the making of the mistake which might have caused paralysis.

    On the other side of the coin/experience are those mistakes that led to greatness simply because they were caught and corrected early on so they became starting points to the beginning of dong things correctly. It seems that the history books are filled with both examples aren’t they!

    I for one have had to learn over the years that instead of hiding in fear, shame and embarressment when i make a mistake to instead face up to it, relook at my strategy, change direction and enjoy both the process and outcome. Incidentally i have also discovered that when looking at mistakes as being something positive instead of something negative that the outcome is often far better than i had anticipated.


  3. T

    Can you imagine the world we would have today if just a few individual men in our history had not been willing to learn and move beyond their mistakes? Evidence of the value of both the crown of individuality and moving beyond mistakes. Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison show us how powerful on person can be when they apply these principles to their living. Someone today who is reading these posts can make the same difference in their own worlds or even the world as a whole. I have learned recently that when open to guidance and growth, there is no limit to potential. Thank you!


  4. Ricardo B.

    It comes back to learning, doesn’t it? Dealing with a mistake certainly can be unpleasant, especially if it is something you have to help point out to others because you don’t know how they are going to take it. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and see how i would take it and reflect on how I’ve taken my mistakes pointed out to me. If I get jumpy, that probably influences my delivery. I know the tendency to project our own feelings onto others so I do exercise great care in pointing out errors. I’m certainly not in the habit of doing this everywhere I go, just that my work in the healthcare arena necessitates this 🙂
    Whatever approach we take to solve a problem or seek a solution to, we should let the result refine our approach as there is always something to learn, something to improve. Nice work!


  5. David R

    Where it seems impossible to face the facts of error, where blame and obfuscation become entrenched, the ongoing error and its rationalizations become a culture, breeding over time all kinds of noxious, numbing and sometimes hallucinogenic byproducts. Thus we have “the culture of Washington” as many refer to it! But that culture is an evidence of a larger culture still, and blaming “the culture of Washington” in a vain attempt to evade individual responsibility just expands the culture a littel further.

    Only on a basis of courageous individual responsibility can the pervasive nature of this unfortunate culture be exposed and neutralized. As an individual one can acknowledge error and allow for correction. One can clean up one’s own mess of debt, and surely a part of that includes the gracious willingness to forgive the debts of others. In the atmosphere produced by such ones, perhaps a different set of features can begin to culture – a probiotic influence! I think this blog can act as such an influence on a day-to-day basis, assuming that it is backed by solid living.


  6. MMc

    I am astounded by the actions of the majority of most elected officials when they find an error has been brought to light either of their own making or of their party’s ideology. Their justifications are as flimsy as their promises to soldier on after the incident. Unless there is honest compunction with a humble recognition of how they arrived at this juncture I don’t see how they expect things to improve. It is the same for all of us. Arrogance neutralizes repentance, so there is no probability of improving the stupefied thinking that authored the mistakes.


  7. B Wiley

    Your recent posts on Mistakes of Life have been wonderfully eye opening and very helpful. I have shared a few with others and they too have found them to be helpful in moving along lifes road on a day to day basis. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s