Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mistakes - are they lessons

I recently was reading about Stan Shih – the ex-chairman of Acer. He said something which really clicked with me. He mentioned that life is about continuous learning and the hardships and misery we face during this learning is the tuition fee which we need to pay for this learning. Very simply put and very irrelevant in today’s fast food culture but his thought connected well with me.
After reading his brilliant philosophy of life, I took a step back and thought about my life and my learnings and of course the tuition fee I paid for it.
After a lot of contemplation and lots of “brainstorming”, I realized one thing for sure that regardless of what my mistakes were and the tuition fee I paid for it, “I must start loving the fool within me, the one who feel s too much, speaks too long, takes too many risks, seldom succeeds and fails often, have insufficient self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, laughs and cries”.
Most of us when we do something wrong, or we do something that makes us guilty or feel bad, we tend to get angry with ourselves. Most of us have this ghastly habit of beating ourselves mentally over and over again on the mistakes we do. We need to stop that and love ourselves for our mistakes. I ensure that I make 3 mistakes a day and ensure that I learn from them and don’t repeat them.              
We need to start believing that ‘there are no mistakes in life, there are only lessons’.
Bad things happen to everyone. After all life is like a bush of roses, with the beautiful roses, you need to face the thorns. Metaphorically speaking, thorns are the breakdowns we face during this journey of life- the bad judgement calls, the deceptions, the misinterpretations. What one needs to understand is that every thorn should be considered a cornerstone to ensure those mistakes are not repeated.
I try to consider mistakes souvenirs or rewards for taking risks in our daily to daily lives. Many of us don’t ever want to fail. We try to be picture perfect and completely error free. And how do we do that? We prevent ourselves from scouting unfamiliar territories, don’t experiment and try to be in our comfort zones.
I read about this concept where there are 3 sections of knowledge maps in us. They are –
1.       I know
2.       I know that I don’t know
3.       I don’t know that I don’t know
For example, we know that we know how to ride a bike. We also know that we don’t know how to fly a space shuttle but many people don't know that they don’t know that their colleagues hate them at work or that they smell bad.
The point is – many of us are so “risk averse” that we never try to venture out and seek the 3rd section of our knowledge map. The significance of the third section can’t be ignored. If you consider knowledge map to be 100%, you might have section 1 as 1%, section2 as 3% and the remaining 96% belongs to section 3. The most successful people around the world have penetrated section 3 through enquiry and observation, and have developed insights which helped them to attain business, political and spiritual glory.
All I am trying to say is that venture out and take roads less travelled because who knows in one of those ‘road trips’ you’ll find your calling. And don’t care too much about the mistakes you make during those journeys, after all even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Robert Frost very aptly said “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. -   “It goes on”. So remember that regardless of your mistakes, your life will go on. So go out and start making mistakes.

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