Character Creates Opportunity® – Mistakes: February 5, 2015

We seem to have a cultural bias towards only talking openly about our successes or when things go according to our plans.  It is such a more pleasant conversation to have with coworkers, within families, or within a community.

The reality is that things don’t always go “perfect” and many times we, as individuals, make mistakes.

Leveraging the opportunity that comes alongside mistakes is an important part of our growth as we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character.

There are just a few simple truths around mistakes that we all could use an occasional reminder and reinforcement of the opportunity they bring about:

(1)    No one is perfect. We will continue to make mistakes.  The thought that we can tap dance, without tripping from time to time, through a world that continues to grow more complex and uncertain is pure fantasy.

(2)    Accepting responsibility.  Passing through the furnace that comes with accepting responsibility helps to purify and humble our spirit.  Playing the blame game or passing the buck on some excuse weakens us as individuals.

(3)    Learning and growing.  Volumes of academic research and real world experience would tell us that we learn and grow a great deal more through mistakes than we do with successes.  The pain of mistakes is often the first step to admitting our problems which starts us down the path to personal growth.

(4)    Helping others.  Many times, we are so focused on ourselves trying to cover things up or reorganize the mess we made, that we fail to take advantage of the opportunity to help others.  Openly sharing our mistake, in a genuine and authentic way, shows others we are real and opens a door for them to overcome the potential shame they feel from their own mistakes. Unbeknownst to us, our sharing encourages others to silently move forward past their own mistakes.

From time to time, we all feel a bit down because of a mistake we have made.  Below are a few reminders that no one is perfect and sharing them may build hope for each of us to keep moving forward:

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”  Ken Olson, President and Chairman of Digital Equipment Co. in 1977

“If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute in 1954

“We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and good stocks are cheap at these prices.” Goodbody and Co. in a market update to customers on October 25, 1929, just days prior to the biggest crash in the history of Wall Street.

“Reagan doesn’t have that presidential look.”  United Artists executive after rejecting Reagan for the film The Best Man

These very public mistakes are the easy ones to identify and address. Mistakes Couple

The painful truth is that the mistakes made with those closest to us are often the most difficult for us to effectively address.

As we deal with the mistakes we make in the home with principles like humility, compassion, forgiveness, and sacrifice, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to learn and grow from our mistakes and build strength in our homes, where we need it most.