Tip #752: Mistakes


“To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is to swear off having ideas.” Leo Burnett

It is the end of the year and I’ve been thinking about paths I didn’t take as well as paths that essentially blew up in my face. Sigh… I would like to say that each mistake has been an opportunity to learn something about myself, about the world, or about life itself. That’s not entirely accurate. Some “mistakes” were strong good faith efforts that failed for reasons well beyond my control.

My experience with federal government service contracts, for example. I needed to show a certain dollar amount for federal contracts on a yearly basis and was unable to do so. This was partially due to a lack of requests for proposals in my areas of expertise, as well as a lack of success in attaining the contracts for which I was able to submit a response.

I had a good run for a few years. I suppose that’s got to be enough. The benefit of not being on the federal contract register is I am no longer constrained by the price list I had to negotiate to be placed on the register. Now I can set my rates where I want.

This hasn’t deterred me from considering and taking other risks. Starting a new business right now is one of them. Hopefully, if imagination, commitment, persistence and plain hard work are enough, the result will be much happier than my GSA experience.

I often find consolation in quotes. There are many good quotes about making mistakes and I thought it would be helpful to look at some of them. Here are the ones that spoke to me:

“We must expect to fail… but fail in a learning posture, determined not to repeat the mistakes, and to maximize the benefits from what is learned in the process.”  Ted W. Engstrom

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth — not going all the way, and not starting.”  Buddha

“If only we could have two lives: the first in which to make one’s mistakes, which seem as if they have to be made; and the second in which to profit by them.” D. H. Lawrence

Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde

“People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year.” Peter Drucker

“The better a man is the more mistakes he will make for the more things he will try.” Peter Drucker

“Did you sleep well? No, I made a couple of mistakes.” Steven Wright

In an imperfect world, we really have to have a healthy sense of humor, don’t we?

So, here’s to making mistakes, and surviving and thriving because of or in spite of them.

May your learning be sweet.


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