top of page

The Value of Mistakes

Image of green insect on orange flower inside a car.

One stupid mistake can change everything

We are taught from an early age that making mistakes is bad. They lead to punishment, admonishment and failure. Teachers are displeased, parents are disappointed and friends get angry. We end up believing that nothing good can come from a mistake.

Researchers find that the opposite is true. Mistakes actually lead to brain growth. By spending the time to figure out a solution, making mistakes, critiquing what happened, and focusing on learning, we are helping ourselves in the future. The experience creates a platform of confidence in the brain that will generalize to all new or learning situations.

The lessons learned are truly valuable. If you can become comfortable with mistakes, there is no doubt they can add value to your life.

6 Values of Mistakes

When there is a mistake, you have to engage your brain to find a solution. When you work your brain, it grows. Just ask a group of London cabbies who were part of a research study while learning thousands of streets and landmarks.

2. Mistakes challenge you to be open minded, and to look at the

problem or idea more closely

Sir Alexander Fleming was experimenting with the influenza virus

in 1928 when he made the mistake of allowing mold to contaminate his cultures. Rather than throwing the contaminated culture away, he looked at what had happened, and discovered that the bacteria was unable to grow anywhere near the mold. That mistake resulted in the discovery of penicillin.

3. Mistakes make you more willing to listen and understand others

When you accept mistakes as valuable, you will become less defensive when someone talks to you about what happened. By listening to others you can see the situation from a different perspective, which will open new possibilities.

4. Mistakes spark creativity

You've heard the saying, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”. That's the approach many people take to life: if something works, why look for a new way to do things. However, if the solution you have does not work, you have two choices: to stop trying, or to get creative in solving the problem.

5. Mistakes help you become more open to accepting help

When you are secure in the fat that it's okay to be wrong sometimes, you have opened up a world of possibilities. When you do not require yourself to be right all the time, you give yourself multiple chances at solving a problem, rather than limit yourself. When you can allow others to see that you are not perfect, then you can work with them toward a greater goal.

Those mistakes in the presence of others can inspire a thought in someone else, who may inspire a third person. In The Innovators, Walter Isaacson's seminal history of the digital era, he says,”Innovation comes from teams more than lightbulb moments of lone geniuses.”

6. Mistakes make you less afraid

One of the worst things that can happen for a human being is to be abandoned and alone. Needing to be right all the time can make you choose between your appearance of being correct and the help that exists but that you don't request. When you know there is help available, and you allow yourself to ask for it, you realize that you are not alone.

With this in mind, let's revisit our first statement:

One stupid mistake can change everything.

I would imagine that, at first glance, that sentence would be perceived as a negative statement. It can be. It can also be a positive statement, if we remain open-minded, humble, unafraid, and willing to ask for help.

Studies are beginning to show that spending the time to figure out how to ‘get it right’–making mistakes, critiquing performance, focusing on getting better–are the valuable things to be learning. Instead of creating a solution for one problem, it creates a sense of confidence that applies to many different situations.

It teaches people how to learn. It teaches people that improvement is continuous – that there is not just success, but a continuum of growth. That is a lesson that is truly valuable.

The Value of mistakes

This little guy knows something that we all need to know, just because someone else thinks it's a mistake, it does not necessarily make it a mistake. Contrary to his mom, he thinks sunglasses in church is a fine idea.

Are you having trouble finding value in your mistakes? Call me I can help you learn the value of mistakes. (919)881-2001.

bottom of page