Successful people make lots of mistakes!
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The American inventor Thomas Edison is famous not just for inventing the light bulb, but also for going down thousands of wrong roads and taking countless wrong turns until he found the right path for inventing a light bulb that would glow a long time.
And, just as important, he began each new approach with excitement, but also fear and doubt. Okay—you are not an inventor. But—wait—yes you are: You are an on-going inventor of the best YOU!
Here is a guide of things you knew, but forgot about how to benefit from your wrong turns.
How To Get The Most From Your Mistakes
1. Stay positive. Beating yourself up for choosing a wrong partner, messing up an interview or not succeeding in something else is a big, fat lie and cop-out. Staying in a negative mindset is a sure way to stop you from learning and getting back out there so you can learn some more about how to be strong and get it right.
Wow—when you think of it that way, you can see how staying negative turns you into the thief of you!
2. Read about the lives of other successful people. Biographies and autobiographies of successful people are full of stories of failed attempts. Let these stories inspire you—not necessarily to become famous—but to pick yourself up and give it another go.
3. Get realistic. Did you aim too high? Did you aim too low? These extremes are sure ways to lie to you again. After all, you might think, I was only trying to be the first person to solve the problem of living on Mars. Or, well, I thought they’d hire me to organize files even though I have two advanced degrees.
The consequence of being realistic, of course, is that you have to face you realistically, feel rotten for a while and then risk feeling anxious while moving forward. Hmm…that doesn’t sound so terrible, does it? Remember: You have only one life on this earth.
4. Go before the mistake judge. Yes, that’s right. Pretend that you are defending your case to the highest judge in the land: The mistake judge. Tell the judge what you did wrong. Explain that you were afraid or that you really didn’t try or that you weren’t the best candidate or partner.
What would the mistake judge say to you? Would you get a life sentence? Tell the mistake judge what you learned and what you will do differently. You’ll probably get probation!
5. Wait a bit and then make a do-over list. When your anxiety and fears are less overwhelming, make a list of what you could have done differently.
6. Ask for help. Don’t go it alone. Most of us could benefit from feedback and advice. Smart people get help! Seeking it is not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, it is just the opposite!
7. Make friends with your disappointment and fear. Don’t banish or bury your blues in drugs, drink, food, sex or spending. When you run from you, you weaken your inner strength to weather the ups and downs of life. As I’ve often said, life pitches even the best of us curve balls. Fortify your fortitude by learning to tolerate them until you can take the wise steps on this list.
8. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can bring out ideas that you didn’t know were inside you! Writing helps you create a dialogue with you that can reveal solutions, forgiveness and ability to rebound.
9. Talk to yourself as though you were a person from another country or a teenager. Tourists are strangers in a strange land. They make dumb mistakes such as mispronouncing things, using wrong table manners or not wearing proper attire. Imagine you were a tourist to your situation. What can you learn to do differently?
Or, imagine you are talking to a young teenager—they often act in haste and misread a situation. How can you soothe and guide the young teenager in you in your particular situation?
10. Alert your friends to encourage you. Tell your closest friends about your feelings and situation. Ask them to give you advice and to check in on you to make sure you are not setting yourself up for sabotaging you again! Be specific. For example, you might say: “Make me show you the actual emails I sent to employers.” Or, “Make me show you what I wrote my latest ex.”
Life always has bumps in the road. And you don’t necessarily have to take the straightest or shortest road to succeed. As the woman, Daisy, who raised me always said to me: “There are lots of ways to China.”
I wish you the best!