Do Mistakes Equal Failure?

As a child, if you spill something on the floor, your mother shakes her head in frustration. In school, when you make a lot of mistakes on a test, you receive a low grade. When you accidentally reverse too carelessly in your car, inadvertently bumping into a shiny new Mercedes, you earn your insurance company a massive fee and yourself a higher premium cost. From the time we are young, it is engrained in us that mistakes are followed by disapproval and disappointment. What if making and more importantly, owning, our mistakes is the key ingredient to achieving stable success?

Mistakes are inevitable. No matter the person or the endeavor, all must cope with failure and learn to forgive themselves. Rather than indicating defeat, mistakes demonstrate risk-taking. It is simple to avoid blunders by remaining in one’s comfort zone. However, no greatness is ever achieved without risk, or for that matter, errors.

Mistakes present an opportunity to extend into new territory and grow innovative ideas.

The Business Insider article, “15 Life-Changing Inventions that Were Created By Mistake,” illustrates well the importance of accepting imperfection and fostering growth from flaws.What would we do without Perry Spencer’s failure at creating a new vacuum tube, which turned out to be the microwave? The Fourth of July would look much less spectacular without a Chinese cook’s misstep in the kitchen and fortuitous creation of fireworks. The point is, mistakes often lead to new discovery.

Mistakes do not have to directly lead to impressive accomplishments to hold value.

More often than not, mistakes result in time and money wasted and a lingering feeling of defeat.Mistakes can only transform from a setback to a victory if people can accept their mistakes, exonerate themselves, and positively refocus their energies.

One of the best-known and most successful American manufacturers in history, Henry Ford, accomplished great feats, developing the first affordable automobile. He put cars on the map (literally and figuratively). He converted them from an extreme luxury item to a convenient household commodity.Henry Ford’s ideas were revolutionary and oftentimes prosperous, however his career was not devoid of mistakes. One of his most notable faulty visions resulted in his Brazilian rubber town, Fordlandia. Because he desperately needed tires, he figured the most efficient way to retrieve rubber was by extracting it from his own town. Ford was not a biologist, geologist, or Brazilian. Needless to say, Fordlandia flopped, costing the mogul 200 million dollars and six years of effort.Not one to dwell, Ford kept on persevering, building his automobile empire, and famously stated, “Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.” Mistakes may distract momentarily, but upon realization and acceptance, can strengthen people and re-clarify their goals.

Mistakes are part of being human. Be it in the workplace or in our personal lives, we will make mistakes. The key to success is when we possess the persistent, positive attitudes to turn our gaffes into our gains.