My grandfather used to say “The first time you mess up is not a mistake, it’s a learning experience, the next time you do it...then it’s a mistake.”
I think that I tend to be the hardest critic that there is when it comes to my own life and it has always been that way. Whether it is the drive for success of something I am striving to accomplish or the occasional skepticism of my latest decision, I have historically been pretty hard on myself, especially in retrospect, when I find that a decision of mine was not the right one. I am fortunate that in my early youth my grandfather helped me understand, not only the concept of human error, but the greater fallacy in robbing yourself of the opportunity for knowledge in the name of condemnation.
Think back to the last time that you made a decision that you consider a “mistake”, you know, a miscalculation, a careless error or some moment of poor reasoning that turned out to be the wrong thing to do. When you consider the incident let me ask you a question…did you have the knowledge of the end result, prior to the decision? Did you know beforehand that the decision you made was going to turn out the way that it did? The quick answer is “well of course not, or I wouldn’t have done it!” Maybe...or maybe not... but the “mistake” can have a lot more to do with what you knew more than what you did.
For example, quite a few people made decisions to purchase real estate back in 2006, who would say with the knowledge that they have today, that was a mistake. Now each situation has its own set of specifics, I’m sure, but at that time, the decision was probably made with the best of intentions, who knew that the housing market would suffer the greatest collapse in the history of the United States? Sure, that scenario applies to a particular group of people, but message is the same and there are plenty of other examples out there; everything be it some merchant or service person that ripped you off, to the person you divorced, sometimes we simply don’t know - what we don’t know - but blame ourselves as if we did.
Don’t take this entry as an opportunity to side step the responsibility for your actions - that is not what this is about, you own every decision you make. It is however an opportunity to recognize that we are human and we don’t know everything and sometimes the learning process involves us to having missteps, bad decisions or errors along the way. The key is to learn from the experience and retain that knowledge so that the next time you face a similar scenario, you won’t make a true mistake. There is a two-fold lesson here, first you are not perfect and when errors are made you need to realize it, learn from it, and forgive yourself so you can move on. Second, others are not perfect and when errors are made you need to recognize it, learn from them, and forgive them so you can move on…yes, I said so YOU can move on. Remember, experience is the greatest teacher and unforgiveness is the worst warden. My prayer is that this entry helps you to recognize the differences between a learning experience and a true mistake, to be quick to forgive others...and yourself, but never forget the lesson of the experience. Be Blessed.