How to learn from your mistakes
I learned a valuable lesson from a mistake I made in my very first business venture.
It cost me exactly $187.35.
That doesn’t sound like much, but it was a fortune to me at the time.
I was 11 years old.
I’d been delivering newspapers since I was 9 years old (yes, I started early).
The lessons I learned tossing the newsprint were many, but none so powerful as the one I’m about to tell you.
I was pedaling my bike down a street when a neighborhood dog decided that my fluttering pant leg was too good to resist.
He came at me, barking, snarling, and nipping.
I was scared. I kicked furiously, trying to discourage its attraction to my flapping bell bottoms.
Then it happened.
But not just any parked car. A restored classic.
It was the left rear tail light that cost me the $187.35.
But it was one of the many times I learned to learn from my mistakes.
Many people won’t learn from their mistakes because they’re afraid to make them.
- They don’t take risks (even wisely calculated ones).
- They won’t try anything outside the box.
- They insist on guarantees.
But those things don’t exist – at least not in the world that I live in.
Edward John Phelps once said:
The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
Making mistakes is part of learning. It’s part of how you gain mastery over the short-sightedness that leads to the mistakes.
It’s how you grow yourself and your business.
And Spirit-led mistakes are the best kind to learn from.
Yep, you read that correctly.
He knows it’s the best way for us to learn.
Sometimes,it’s the only way for us to learn.
So I find myself having to re-think things when I make a mistake.
I still ask if I misheard or misunderstood the Spirit’s leading… but I also seek the lessons I can learn from the mistake.
And without fail the Holy Spirit teaches me in those moments.
I know that like a wise Father He may have orchestrated or allowed the whole thing, for my benefit.
So how do you learn from your mistakes?1 Be OK with making mistakes in the first place.
A very wise man once said to me (and a group of others gathered to hear him speak)
If you only learn from your successes, you’re only learning half as much as you could.- Wayne Cordiero
It’s true, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
In fact, be bold in making them.
The Holy Spirit is in you, to guide you through the mistake and into the lesson you need to learn from it.
Trust Him to be bigger than your mistake and perhaps even the One who orchestrated it.
He’s big enough to help you learn what you need to learn.2 Be humble. Accept your mistake and all its implications.
The mistakes we make teach us a variety of things:
- We were too impatient
- We were stubborn and didn’t accept advice
- We moved ahead when there were obvious warning signs
- We were ignorant of facts and details we desperately needed
Each of those is painful to admit.
But you have to admit them (and things like them) if you’re going to learn from your mistakes.
Humility is characteristic of our Savior.
It’s what brings the grace of God to our aid. Don’t miss it.3 Create a plan to implement what you’ve learned
It’s one thing to say, “I made BLANK mistake.”
It’s another thing entirely to say, “I made BLANK mistake and THIS is what I’m going to put in place to avoid it next time.”
That is what it takes to truly learn from your mistakes.
So the question for you is, “What will you SPECIFICALLY DO to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice?”4 Get back on the horse.
You won’t have a chance of implementing what you’ve learned if you won’t get out there and try again.
So get out there.
Give it another shot.
Just make sure it’s not the same one and you’re on the path to growth.