How to Make Mistakes

personal reflections Jul 03, 2023

One day, in front of a classroom Albert Einstein wrote on the blackboard:

9 x 1 = 9

9 x 2 = 18

9 x 3 = 27

9 x 4 = 36

9 x 5 = 45

9 x 6 = 54

9 x 7 = 63

9 x 8 = 72

9 x 9 = 81

9x10 = 91

Noticing his mistake, the class mocked and made fun of him because the correct answer for 9 x10 is 90.

Albert Einstein waited for everyone to quiet down and said: "Despite me answering the first 9 questions correctly, no one congratulated me. Instead, when I got one wrong, everyone started laughing. This means that despite being very successful, society will only notice the smallest mistake and make fun of it. Don't let simple criticism destroy your dreams."

I don't know whether this is a true story or not but I am always reminded of it when I make a mistake.

Making mistakes, no matter how small, used to send me into a guilt-ridden tizzy. I pride myself on being reliable, responsible, organized, and consistent. These days, I've accepted that I can't do everything perfect and it does everyone more harm than good when I beat myself up over unintentional mistakes.

My clients are oftentimes incredibly hard they are on themselves when the slip up, especially when they are moving through a particularly difficult or stressful time. When they inevitably take a few steps back the BIG things I emphasize are:

  1. Focusing on what they are doing right
  2. Forgiving themselves quickly and effectively
  3. Saving their apologies for when they are truly necessary
  4. Pursuing self-love at all times.

Now this isn't exactly easy - there's something so sickeningly satisfying about beating ourselves up, right? Feeling like we deserve to suffer at least a little bit for our blunders?

We MUST be mindful of our thoughts and where we direct our energy. Our mind is one of the single most powerful tools at our disposal and actively redirecting our focus in a productive, resourceful direction is both our choice and our responsibility.

So next time you make a mistake (and trust me there will always be a next time) I invite you to consider the following:

  • What if you directed that energy towards improving yourself instead? How could this shift be energizing, uplifting, and motivating?
  • What lesson did you or can you learn from it in order to grow and improve yourself, your circumstances, or your response?
  • What are 3-5 things that you have done well that you are really proud of?
  • How can you putting yourself in a position so that the next time you are stressed, spread thin, and exhausted there is a system in place so that you don't fall into the same traps?






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