One of my earliest memories after making a mistake is my mom reciting that famous age appropriate quote, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…and then later said it myself, I might just own a vacation spot on an island somewhere. Since then, I have made many mistakes. As a result, I have learned a lot! I continue to learn daily by allowing myself to take each mistake and learn something from it.
Swami Sivananda says, “This world is your best teacher. There is a lesson in everything. There is a lesson in each experience. Learn it and become wise. Every failure is a stepping stone to success. Every difficulty or disappointment is a trial of your faith. Every unpleasant incident or temptation is a test of your inner strength. Therefore nil desperandum. March forward hero!”
As an educator, one of the most important lessons we can teach our students is the value of making mistakes. We need to encourage students to grab on to those mistakes and use them as stepping stones to new learning and new experiences. This can be a challenge for our young learners as perfection and getting that “A” provide measurable evidence of growth and intelligence. Can failure or mistakes lead to intelligence and eventual success? They often have a negative connotation and negative experiences; however, only if we allow this mindset to occur. True failure comes when we walk away from those mistakes without a second thought, a second question, or a lack of curiosity as to why we failed or were mistaken. Steve Harvey, the television personality, has had his share of failures in his lifetime. He has learned from each failure. In 2004, Harvey stated, “Failure is a great teacher, and I think when you make mistakes and you recover from them and you treat them as valuable learning experiences, then you’ve got something to share.”
Making mistakes is a valuable part of any learning experience. We cannot learn without them. We must treat mistakes as opportunities to look deeper, maybe through a different lens. This is when the learning becomes lasting and rich. The best response to “I made a mistake” is “So. Now what? What is your next step?” Getting back up and moving forward takes strength, thought, and even courage. Strength, thought, and courage leads to more strength, thought, and courage. These are valuable tools to use the next time and the next, eventually bringing the success which was the initial goal.
“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.” ~David M. Burns
Get back up, dust off the pieces and parts that went into making the mistake, make a plan, and move forward. Then you will recognize and appreciate the great benefit of making mistakes. This is when the true learning begins.