All of the education in the world cannot account for the level of critical thinking and strategy that an active 2 year old can provide. Although he his tenure on Earth is short, he is my greatest teacher out of all of the wonderful and inspirational professors and colleagues that have challenged me throughout my educational and professional careers. You see, after watching my son, I realized something- I had it all wrong. I was taught that risk mitigation and sticking with known variables and outcomes was the key to success, yet as I watched my son learn to walk, run and jump – a light bulb went off. God intends for us to make mistakes regularly, early and often. Not only does this keep us humble and reliant on him, but it also opens our mind to new possibilities that would not otherwise be explored. Even today, we are in the midst of potty training. If it were not for teachable moments, the training process while at times challenging would be non existent. If every one of us was not willing and allowed to make mistakes, we would all be grown adults sitting in diapers. Below are four ways to reverse the mistake/success curve.
Realize “failures” are teachable moments.
Failure is the greatest teacher as failure increases learning and knowledge. Also, it is important to remember that failure in and of it self is a powerful teacher (no one ever said you had to be the one to suffer all of failure to glean earth shattering knowledge). Be a student of history and learn from the mistakes of others so that you do not repeat them, but also do not be afraid of your own, personal failures as great opportunity will arise should you be in the proper frame of mind to generate value from your hard earned education.
Typically as we progress through life, we think the stakes are higher and we begin mitigating our risk (anything from what major to choose for college to changing jobs). It is through the perceived security that we become complacent which elicits the greatest risk of all. We are often gun shy and afraid to put ourselves out there for we feel that failure will land us with irreparable harm. The greatest harm will be when you are on your death bed filled with thoughts wishing you would have taken more risk. Always be thinking, “how big is the fall”? If your calculations discern that the fall, should it happen is survivable, then you should certainly take the plunge. Otherwise, you run the risk of wearing diapers for the rest of your life.
Celebrate and share!
Celebrate your new found learning. Take the antithesis of what the world tells you about failure and turn it on its head. Explore the reason for your failure without judgement and self loathing. Make it your goal to understand the root causes of the failure so you glean valuable insight that other wise would not be apparent. Find others who are like minded and have them help you to not only celebrate your failures but also help you to discern why your thought processes lead you to failure. Lastly, share your failures with others. Not only is this cathartic, but you could change the course of someone’s life simply by sharing your story, experience and perspective.
Seek opportunities to fail.
While counter intuitive, the more often you fail, the greater the likelihood you will be successful. In other words, if your not failing at something you are not trying hard enough. Instead, you are staying in your perceived “safe” place that will eventually leave you with emptiness and despair. Instead, find ways for you to fail that will springboard you to greater failures in hopes that you will glean knowledge that can be leverage for generations to come.
In sum, do not live your life mitigating mistakes like the graph above, instead work to gain exponential experience by making more mistakes through failure early and often.