You make mistakes, right? I know for a fact that we all have. Mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. I get it – there are small mistakes and then there are grave mistakes. We have to be honest with ourselves when it comes to the kind of mistake we make. Mistakes, and failures, come with the territory we call life.
Have I made mistakes? F*ck yes. My past is riddled with my mistakes, and the future holds mistakes I have yet to witness. Big mistakes, small mistakes, avoidable mistakes, purposeful mistakes – the laundry list of mistakes in my mental journal would take days to write in a blog. What kind of mistakes? Dude. I said there have been many. So I’ll give you one.
I’ll be transparent, like I always am, and provide you with some of the details of one huge mistake: I go out to celebrate with a friend who recently found out his wife was pregnant. At some point, the tides shift and I’m wasted. Cool. I had a plan — I didn’t drive. This happened prior to Uber and Lyft, so my girlfriend at the time (now wife) comes to give my friends and I a ride home. I have a designated driver. At some point after my friends were dropped off, we stop the car and she gets out because I’m acting like a wretched a**hole. That’s where drunk me made a critical mistake: I got in the driver’s seat and took off. I didn’t even make it a block before I totaled my truck. The following days were dark. Jail. A strained relationship with my significant other. An uncertain career in the military. Embarrassed, depressed, angry, scared… no emotion left untouched. When I say dark, I mean “balled up, crying in the corner of the shower” dark.
I spared some details for the sake of getting to the point — and because I was blacked out. Yep. Recollections of my one-way ticket to a misdemeanor are derived from others telling me what happened and the 30+ page police report. F*ck, I’m an idiot. Why did I even tell you?
Mistakes matter. They shaped me into the person I am and redirected me away from horrible paths. Sharing your mistakes adds value to other people’s journey. It’s one thing if you place blame and avoid responsibility for them — don’t share them because that adds little value and makes you seem like a child. It’s an entirely different scenario when you own them — share them — you never know how you might change someone’s point of view or their life. My life isn’t miserable just because I made mistakes. I have a beautiful and supportive wife. I have amazing and gifted children. I’ve had (what I would consider) a successful career. I am still here. Stronger, wiser, and more humble than the moments prior to those mistakes. It started with owning those mistakes.
“What is the f*cking point to your ridiculous rant?!?” It is rather simple and I mentioned it several times already – you know, owning mistakes? Yep. I own them. Not as a badge of honor, but as a shield of experience. Can you say the same in reference to your mistakes and the aftermath? I sincerely hope so. I attribute mistakes, much like failures, to learning. It is engrained in us from a really young age. Touch a hot stove = awful burning sensation, red marks, and blistering. A mistake you likely won’t make again (if you did, it was probably an “accident” for at least the hot stove…). But, you learned from it. You experienced the pain, witnessed the aftermath, and walked away a little smarter and stronger. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, you won’t be a repeat offender.
Regardless of the size of your mistake, you have to own it. No. Saying “my bad” will not cut it. That is not ownership. Different conversation, but still a valid point. I equate owning your mistakes to: admitting them, avoiding them in the future, and sharing them when applicable. People tend to have this awkward relationship with owning their actions, either placing blame or justifying their behavior. All good if someone else is to blame, but these are your mistakes we are talking about.
Mistakes are healthy. If you are a parent, you witness this everyday occurrence with your children. They make a mistake, you correct them, they adapt and add another check to the list of things that develop them. What makes you any different? You’re older, sure. More mature… hopefully. But does your date of birth and emotional intelligence ban you from making mistakes? I don’t think so, and if you do, ignorance truly is bliss in your life.
It really is a mindset. At some point, you are still hard on yourself for those gigantic mistakes and you brush-off those small mistakes. As an adult, there comes a time when you experience a paradigm shift. You observe something, hear something, or experience something that will mold your mind into an analytical tool shed. You dissect things, associate emotion with each thing, assess where the critical issue was, make some adjustments, and press forward. Weird, huh? We condition ourselves to mistakes.
Either be a victim of your mistakes, or the victor of your road to redemption.