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To Err is Human: How to Fail Forward

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“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ― Albert Einstein

Mistakes are a blessing, and fortunately we all make them.

Fortunately?

Yes! The human experience is meant to have both highs and the lows in life, and in every failure, within every low point, is the gift of knowledge, and the power to try again.

I do not mean to downplay the consequences, challenges and emotional toil that mistakes make on our lives. But whether it’s a bad investment, a poor career decision, or a relationship gone sour, we all must realize, accept and declare that we are stronger than we think we are, and can handle the current situation, and any other problems that arise along the way.  We must choose to carry on fearlessly and triumphantly.

The real issue with making mistakes is when they become an obsession with perfection, which serves only to hold us back in life. Mistakes are essential lessons that help us get where we want to go.  They help us move forward to our full potential. We fail our way to success by learning what we don’t want; this is why mistakes are a blessing.

I understand it’s not easy to think of mistakes as blessing, and to get past the fear of making them. Here are few suggestions to help you embrace your mistakes, learn from them, and become empowered by them:

Live Wabi Sabi. The Japanese have a name for the art of imperfections: It’s called the Wabi-Sabi. It is said to discover Wabi-Sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may at first look decrepit and ugly. Wabi-Sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on the planet – our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust.  It is the impermanence of life and the courageous embracement of its frailty.  And making mistakes is part of that frailty.

Get perspective on your mistakes. Is it really as bad as you think? Probably not. Can you take the experience and turn it into something else? Change direction; make another decision; be willing to admit you made a mistake and ask for help.

Forgive yourself. If the mistake turned your life upside down, think about the steps you can take to recover from it, and look for opportunities to fine tune the areas in your life that are most important to you. Was it embarrassing and nothing more? Move on!  For the most part, mistakes are not life threatening, only life limiting if you choose to let them hold you back from saying the one word that will bring about a change in direction…

Say NEXT to your mistakes and leave the door wide open to experiment. When we say “next” to events or circumstances that are less than ideal, we give ourselves the opportunity to move forward, expand and learn something new.  Thomas Edison didn’t just invent the light bulb.  He tried thousands of things before he finally hit on the right combination. Imagine if Mr. Edison had been too afraid to fail?  Lights out!

There is true power in failure. When we understand the principle that failures are regularly caused by not having enough information, we can begin to move forward in a new direction. If you are missing parts of the “story” you can’t possibly make the right decision, the right choice, or take the right direction.  And there is always more we can learn. Failure is never the end of the story, unless you choose that position. The power inherit in failure is the lesson, the knowledge we gain from failing to make ourselves stronger, more experienced, and more alive.

This is how we fail forward toward success.

What does failing your way forward to success me to you?

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