The Value of Mistakes

I do not know if your upbringing was like mine but when we were younger, we were discouraged from trying things we could fail at by the adverse reaction we saw others receive. It was almost an abomination to make a mistake. Some of us were beaten for getting things wrong, grounded, given excess work, made to repeat classes or worse still denied things we wanted.

Mistakes were often seen as a sign of foolishness and a true lack of wisdom, so we learnt to avoid any scenarios that looked like they would lead to failure and focus on the few things we were guaranteed to do well. We were often discouraged from talking to people who tried things because they were seen as jokers when they failed or did not turn out as expected.

I begun to pay more attention to life.

I remember looking down at people who were not as good as we were because in our minds, they would not do much in life. We even teased people who made mistakes all the time because it was a sign that they didn’t think too much or assess things well. What we didn’t realise is just how narrow we were becoming. Later in life, I was surprised that some of the people who made mistakes had indeed become something worthwhile.

It was even harder in Christian circles because we were expected to be holy and righteous, following the example of those ahead and leaving an example for those behind. My friends, it was so hard to meet all the standards that many of us faked it and never made it or even got close. We were unhappy but used the lingo we had learnt through our lives to create the illusion of happiness and try and draw people to the faith.

Imagine my surprise when I learnt the value of mistakes. Yes, value!

It was hardest when my early businesses failed because I felt like a failure and though I had heard that failure was good, my heart and mind had not connected to rise above my understanding. In the midst of a very challenging season at the business, I realised that I as the leader was the biggest challenge because my mind was not shifting past the things I was failing at. To I begun to say to myself, ‘What can I learn from this failure? What do I need to let go and what do I retain?’

It was not easy at first but as I pursued that line of thinking I say a change happen. I did not love mistakes, I just begun to see them as a classroom, a course, a learning curve. I hid my face less when it was not working and assessed a lot more. I remembered sounding crazy when I kept asking what can we learn? However, in time, it because the reason I kept going.

Mistakes can be your greatest blessing in life.

I cannot say I have stopped making mistakes, but I have learnt a lot from the ones I have made and a catalogue of lessons that I live by. I have also learnt to look for stories of people who made mistakes and how they recovered as opposed to looking for success stories because ‘Other people’s experience is the best teacher,’ in my books

I have however come face to face with the fear of failure again as I raise the young king. Recently after months of wondering what was going on, I realised that our education system does not allow them to think outside the lines. I realised that the system is looking for a certain set of answers in a certain order and if you miss one your get a bad grade. Ever wonder how they learn to cram? There it is.

The young king loves the kitchen, and he is learning but is has been hard because he thought he had to get things right the first time. when he did not, he would be so frustrated and ready to give up. The day I realised that he thought I never failed blew my mind. So, we began tracking times I failed and how it became a place of learning and growth.

We must teach our children differently about mistakes.

Our generations must understand that unlike the past, making a mistake is not:

  • A bad thing
  • The end of the line
  • Final

A mistake is and will always be:

  • A great classroom
  • A lab for experimentation
  • A quick learning curve
  • A way to build your inner strength and culture

Let us teach ourselves and our children to:

  • Acknowledge the mistake
  • Unpack what allowed us to make the mistake
  • Find what could have or can be done different
  • Apply the lessons learnt from the mistake to life ahead


Photo by Viktoria Goda on

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