"You're making the biggest mistake of your life?" I read this line in a book recently and it got me thinking about making mistakes and failure. I'm sure you can relate when I say that we have all made mistakes at one time or another in our lives. Some of them were fairly small (do you really remember what questions you answered incorrectly on that math test in grade 3?) and some of them have been huge (why did I fall in love with that guy anyway??? What was I THINKING?) but if you are like me, you survived them all. Or at least your body survived them, but how about your spirit?
We were taught as children that making mistakes is something bad. We were all encouraged to strive for perfection and punished for every red mark on a test or assignment. On the job, many of us have found that it is often easier to maintain the status quo instead of taking a risk and doing something different, because the threat of being reprimanded, receiving a negative performance review, or losing your job just isn't worth it. And the result is a lack of creativity and innovation in our lives, and a diminishing of our spirit.
There is another way of looking at mistakes. That is that each mistake isn't a failure of us to do something right, but is an opportunity to learn from each one and to grow as a result. Each mistake we make is a chance for us to learn something new about life and ourselves. If a relationship doesn't work, we learn what characteristics we like and don't like to see in others, and we learn what we can do next time to make our relationships better. If we try out a new idea on the job and it doesn't work, it is OK. We take a closer look at what we did, and make the changes that are necessary to make sure we don't get the same result the next time. With each mistake comes an increase in self-confidence and the urge to innovate - to create our own futures. Isn't this better than feeling guilty because you think you failed?
Looking back on my life I can think of several times I didn't do something because I was scared that it would be "the biggest mistake of my life". There have been a couple of people in my life who have told me that I am making a big mistake by leaving my job and starting a coaching business on my own. What is inferred in this is that if I fail - if my business doesn't work out - than I will have ruined my life...that my life will never recover. But I choose to look at it another way. What would my life be like if I DIDN't take that risk? As the key character, Samantha Sweeting, discovers in the book "The Undomestic Goddess":
"If I've learned one lesson from all that's happened to me, it's that there IS no such thing as the biggest mistake of your existence. There's no such thing as ruining your life. Life's a pretty resilient thing, it turns out."
My life will not end if things don't work out. In fact, my life will probably be richer just for having tried. But I prefer to think that of course I will succeed. What is to stop me? Only my thoughts and attitude can truly keep me from achieving what I want to achieve, and I will definitely make lots of mistakes along the way!
What have you been putting off doing in your life because you were scared that it would be "the biggest mistake of my life"? Do something today that will move you towards doing it, without the fear of making a mistake. Also, to help give you the motivation to move, watch the following video. I guarantee it will help!