Facing the Mistakes of Life IX

Right principles are vital and primary. They bring the maximum of profit from mistakes, reduce the loss to a minimum. False pride perpetuates our mistakes, deters us from confessing them, debars us from repairing them and ceasing them.

Man’s attitude towards his mistakes is various and peculiar; some do not see them; some will not see them; some see without changing; some see and deplore, but keep on; some make the same mistakes over and over again, in principle not in form; some blame others for their own mistakes; some condemn others for mistakes seemingly unconscious that they themselves are committing similar ones; some excuse their mistakes by saying that others do the same things, as though a disease were less dangerous when it becomes— epidemic in a community.” William George Jordan

As we’ve considered through this series of posts, your attitude toward the mistakes you make determines in large measure the nature of your tomorrows. If you are prone to repeating mistakes – bad relationships, poor money choices, frequent traffic accidents – you have likely failed at some level to make the necessary adjustments in orientation that underlie all thought, words and deeds. If, however, you are the type who has developed a habit of never making the same mistake twice, you know what it takes to make the changes at the depth necessary to ensure a permanent correction.

I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon in the equestrian arts that serves as a useful symbol for what is required from an individual who seeks to improve upon the way he handles mistakes in life. Horses in their natural setting, undisturbed by human intervention, tend to move in ways that are not ideal when a rider is upon the horse’s back. The balances are just off. They lean where they shouldn’t, hollow their backs to the discomfort of their rider and so on.

Those skilled in the art of horsemanship can get the the horse to move in a new way quickly and with as little stress as possible. There is always going to be some stress or pressure involved, as new muscle must be built and exits must be closed off to prevent the horse form reverting to his natural way of going. But done artfully, tension, struggle and opposition are artfully dodged.

To get to this point as a rider you must typically have hundreds if not thousands of hours in the saddle. You must recognize and develop a feel for the many ways a horse uses to avoid the desired balances and then you learn how to block those exits. Newton’s Third Law comes into play for as with so many things in life, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Horses are by nature very intelligent creatures but they, like us, tend to be creatures of habit.

Once you learn a horse’s preferred modes of evasion and gain experience with respect to those leaks in the structure you are seeking to build, you can move quite quickly in the establishment of new levels of control, lightness, suppleness and balance. But you have to keep your head in the game! And to keep your mind focused and present you must have a clear and untroubled heart. Wisdom – the sense of the fitness of things – cannot manifest unless body, mind and heart are in alignment.

If you think of yourself as the horse and the rider your higher self, you can look at the challenge of handling mistakes more gracefully in a new way. You have been programmed – genetically, socially, through your life experiences to date – to handle mistakes in a certain likely predictable way. The fabulous Mr. Jordan mentioned a number of the most common evasions in the opening quote above, and there are certainly many others that come into play depending on how creative the individual proves himself to be. But why not listen more carefully to the spirit of wisdom that is present within you?

Your body, mind and heart are but the vehicle for the expression of the individual focus of creative brilliance within you. They are the horse and you are the rider. Your mind is not the rider, your body is not the rider and your heart is most certainly not the rider. You are the rider. The rest is the horse and the horse is here to provide the means by which your expression can be grounded into the earth of your circumstances.

At first the relationship is awkward. Like the untrained horse, your body, mind and heart do not tend to jibe with the winds of creative expression that blow from the particular focus of life that you are. But learn to apply Newton’s Third Law and your progress will blow you away! Learn to rise up to the inner call to greatness and meet it with sufficient opposing force in your heart and your mind and the actions you take with your body have no choice but to come into alignment.

Consciously, deliberately block the exits, the bad habits, and you will form a container that will allow for buildup of pressure necessary to move forward. It does not matter if you do this in relation to a new and fresh opportunity or in the face of the most chronic of your mistaken ways, the principle will work if given sufficient time and consistent attention.

Watching an accomplished rider work with a well-trained horse and you see a magical interplay that defies description and seems divinely inspired. The two become one. There is union. The same can happen to you in relation to your body, mind and heart. The inner qualities of you that relate to the particular focus of life that you are can mesh seamlessly with the outer capacities of body, mind and heart that you have, producing a magical display worthy of note.

9 thoughts on “Facing the Mistakes of Life IX

  1. Wilbur George

    Tom Peters once wrote that to be successful a business needed to be right 51% of the time; in other words, being wrong 49% of the time equaled success as long as the organization was a ‘learning’ organization. That is, an organization that encouraged the using of mistakes as a springboard to learning the right ways of doing things – celebrating mistakes if you will.

    And the opposite is true as well – an organization could be right 90% of the time but if they have sn atmosphere of blame, hiding mistakes, etc. than they will fail because the making of mistakes will be shourded in shame and deceit making the mistakes very expensive indeed.


  2. Colin

    In this post you consistently allude to the wisdom within you. I think this is a point worthy of note. The wisdom is already in you! Each one of us is different, and each one of us knows what is the right thing for them. For some that have been out of touch with their wisdom for a long time, the direction from their wisdom might be muddied. It might not be so clear to them what to do. However, there is something, somewhere that each one of us is doing differently than we should be. This could be from many of the ways Jordan described, or it could be just from a small change in circumstance where we need to make one of those small corrections that will be a constant part of our lives. As long as you are making progress and moving quickly in the right direction, without stalling, you will find that progress is beyond your imagination.


  3. Beth C

    In reading your post, I was reminded of the ancient words of wisdom “Know Thyself”. If there is a penetrating honesty, then who is in better position to see the bad habits and tendencies and effectively block the exits than oneself? Thanks for your words of wisdom.


  4. Vincent

    Mastery in any field produces the magical oneness you describe, and it is always an inspiration to behold in any area of function. However, along the road to mastery there is always plenty of less inspiring experience! – awkwardness, repitition, a little pain here and there, perhaps even embarrassment. The lesser person, identified with the lower self, will avoid such discomfort assidulously. In fact, the level of mastery many people develop in this field of avoiding mastery can be amazing! Why not apply oneself to excellence with the practical realization that one simply cannot reach the goal of mastery without the unevenness of the intervening territory?


  5. Kimberly

    Humility is certainly our friend as we look to find our leaks and begin to repare the damage. One way that occurred to me was deliberately shaking up the usual routine of managing things. An example might be if you’re used to shutting down when trouble hits,try journaling about it. On the contrary if your used to confiding in your best friend in detail about it; try keeping it to yourself and thinking about it, while you give it some time.
    I want to become more sensitive to my higher self and my habits that derail my progress. I like the challange of becoming more sensitive to my own proclivities, thanks for a helpful post.


  6. Ricardo B.

    This is good. The horse and the rider. The human and the being. This is a helpful analysis along with a useful analogy to conceptualize a critical instruction in the art of successful living. How to ‘tame’ your horse or discipline the human components of yourself. I find this fascinating! Alot of things come up. It’s also like being your own parents in a way, and the child is your body, mind and heart. The child has to be fed well, educated and disciplined, for it can easily be corrupted. It has to grow out of its childish ways through proper shaping and pruning. There has to be an higher ordered template that lovingly surrounds the child so that it can reveal the finest it is capable of.
    Anyhow, how all this relates in essence to the realities of my day is to consciously block habits of dissipation, strive for excellence, and let the laws of physics take care of the rest so that horse and rider may gallop victoriously towards the sunset of my tomorrows! Good day compa!


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