Recently I’ve been wishing that we could just throw away the word “mistake.” Can you imagine how refreshing life would be if we could eliminate that word from our everyday speech, the dictionary and the Internet? In fact, I don’t merely want to eliminate the word; I want to eradicate its very meaning.
According to TheFreeDictionary.com, a mistake is 1) an error or fault resulting from defective judgment or deficient knowledge or carelessness, or 2) a misconception or misunderstanding.
What’s up with these definitions? Or for this matter, any other definition of the word you might find in a different dictionary? Do they adequately define all that we learn from our “mistakes?”
To me, there are no mistakes. I didn’t originate this idea. In fact, I learned it from a very smart 80-year-old man who was attempting to comfort me after I relayed a whopping and expensive business “mistake” I had made. With great insight, this wise soul proposed a new perspective. He grasped my intense frustration with my situation and simply said: “Education is expensive. A good education is very expensive.”
What a new and wonderful way of looking at things! Viewing every experience, whether good or bad, as a lesson to be learned from is an empowering way to frame the inevitable challenges we all face. Whether you are feeling tortured or experiencing bliss, you are being offered a lesson. Those lessons combine, day after day, to bring us a lifetime of experience.
Would it be nice if all our lessons were filled with joy and no tears? Certainly. Is this realistic? No. And if we were to be really honest, we’d likely admit that our best business lessons aren’t learned during moments of smooth sailing and with happy clients. Rather, our wisdom results from navigating challenging clients, partners, situations and the smorgasbord of what some might call mistakes. But whether we call them mistakes, errors, faults, inaccuracies, slips, blunders, gaffes, faux pas or anything else, this grossly underestimates the lessons we learn from these experiences.
So today I challenge you to ponder the following: How would your life, business, client relationships, employees or loved ones benefit if you removed the word “mistake” from your vocabulary, and instead began viewing all experiences as valuable lessons to be studied and learned from? Surely this could be the start of a movement. I believe all these lessons accumulate into a “Masters in Education of Business or Life.” If we remember this, we might start to understand that the price we paid for that education was worth it. These experiences leave us better equipped for our next lesson—a lesson that will inevitably arrive if we truly give our all to whatever we do.