The Fine Art of Making Mistakes

Posted on Feb 17, 2010 in motivationPersonal Development by
30 Comments

Do you make mistakes? No? Really? Than thank you very much and enjoy your trip away from this blog as of… right now! This post is not for you. This post is about people who are making mistakes. Precisely, for people who are learning from their own mistakes.

Yeah, I know what you think: I won’t have a huge audience for this post. There aren’t a lot of people out there to learn from their own mistakes. And I have to agree with that. I know I was a pretty slow learner myself. But this doesn’t prevent me from trying to reach to them, anyway. For instance, you, the one who’s reading right now, you may be one of those people. Or you may want to become one, after you read this.

Because this article is about one of the most hidden and mysterious arts on Earth. An art so secret and out of sight that many of use never heard of it. Yet, it’s one of the most fulfilling and enriching techniques ever, an approach so beneficial that once you learn how to master it, you’ll never want to forget it. Ever.

It’s the fine art of making mistakes.

The Art Of Making Mistakes?

Yes! I can see you’re a little confused: how making mistakes can be an art? Mistakes are just mistakes, nothing more. Well, let me tell you something: we’re all making them, but only a few really know how to make them. The rest of us are sucking big time at this. Because like any other action, making mistakes can be evaluated and improved. There is a way to positively make mistakes the same way there is a way to improve your English accent.

Well, if there is such a way, why we’re not following it?

First reason: all mistakes are opportunities, but we somehow lost the ability to recognize them as such. We’re accepting only clear, black-and-white, capitals written opportunities, while constantly pushing gaffes in the back of our mind. Instead of accepting each error as an opportunity, we instantly push the guilt switch: we blundered? Oh, time to suffer. Big time.

Second reason for sucking at making mistakes: we never really accept them. We don’t really process and digest our faults. We developed this very popular talent of stacking up boo-boo’s in a secret personal history and chewing them every time we’re depressed. Oh, if only I would have done this the other way around, I wouldn’t be here, broke and alone. We’re very good at that. It’s called regret.

Third reason for sucking at making mistakes: we’re not practicing them. We’re not aware of the fact that there is a fine art of making mistakes, an art so empowering and liberating that once we really get it, we won’t go back to our clumsy way of blundering. Ever. We simply think that making mistakes is fundamentally a non-improvable process. We’re taking our mistakes for granted.

Well, time to change all of this. Read on.

The 7 Secret Rules Of The Art Of Making Mistakes

What’s following is a list of 7 simple rules. But as simple and obvious as they may seem, they’re really the cornerstone of this art. You can build on top of them, creating your own style, but you can’t avoid any of them.

1. Have Courage

If you’re going to blunder, blunder big time. Blow away everything, there will be enough time to clean up afterward. Go all the way up to the top. Dry out your possibilities and try everything. Have no fear. Just do whatever you feel you have to do and then watch for the results.

Courage is the ability to completely immerse in what you’re doing, while being aware of every possible negative outcome of your actions. Without courage, your impact on the reality will be drastically diminished. And with a small impact on reality, how can you change it?

A courageous mistake is worth a thousand times more than a fearful compliance. The fine art of making mistakes resides primarily in the ability to create complete, brilliant and marvelous mistakes. Look at them in all their beauty. Now you clearly know what to avoid.

2. Trust Yourself

One of the subtlest ways in which mistakes are affecting our behavior is at the self-trust level. Every time we blunder, our common reaction is to step back and re-evaluate our entire personal history. Pour in some shame and social pressure and you’ll have one big poisoned cocktail.

Do yourself a service: don’t drink this ;-). Trust yourself even when you’re barking up the wrong tree. The other option is to give away your entire experience and judgment for some ready-made solutions. There isn’t such thing as a ready made solution. You’re the only one able to see what’s right for you.

By practicing the fine art of making mistakes you’ll soon understand why always trusting yourself is fundamental and unavoidable. In the end, mistakes are just hints, pointers to a new, different way of doing things. If you don’t trust yourself, you won’t be able to decipher the underlying message of those signs.

3. Accept Mistakes

As part of the experience. And accept the fact that you did it. You were the one who took that bad decision or who did that stupid step. Not your friends, not your parents, not your partner. You can’t really assign responsibility to somebody else and still expect to manage the situation.


You can begin to change something only when you’re accepting it. If you continuously reject something, you’re practically giving away the handles, you have no way to actually grab that specific thing and turning it away. It’s like trying to talk to a person in a plane 10.000 feet above you. They can’t hear you.

The fine art of making mistakes will allow you to reverse the consequences of your acts but only from the moment you take full responsibility for what you did. Now you may start to understand why this art is so rare: accepting mistakes is still a pretty uncommon trend nowadays.

4. No Guilt

Ok, you really screw it up this time. Maybe you hurt some people in the process. Maybe you hurt yourself too. The social response to such a situation is guilt. Let’s feel guilty for what we did, let’s embrace sadness and regret. Like this will reverse the situation, or something.

Guilt is a waste of time. The biggest of all, if you ask me. Since all your life is right here right now, what’s the purpose of going back in time and feeling bad about something you can’t change anymore? Oh, because guilt makes you easier to be controlled. But that’s another story.

By practicing the fine art of making mistakes you will gradually eliminating guilt from your emotions portfolio. You will slowly learn that your guilt is one your biggest liabilities and it can only make you powerless. And you will also experience some rejection from the guilt worshipers around. Get over it.

5. Stay Actionable

At some point, if you’re really, really into making mistakes, you’ll hit a wall. Either the results of your blunders will be really overwhelming, either you’re going to develop some kind of an allergy to actions. Fact is you’re going to badly need a step back. Don’t. Stay actionable. Keep doing stuff.

The only way to get out from a hole is to keep climbing. If you’re not going to do anything, the Earth won’t start lower around you just to flatten your situation. It doesn’t work like this. Maybe you’re in a really big hole now, but the more you’re avoiding action, the more you’re sinking.

The masters of the fine art of making mistakes know that action is the only detail that separate an error from an opportunity. Do whatever you can to foster your actions, keep looking forward and, even if you’re making only baby steps, keep making those steps. If you stop moving, you’re as good as dead.

6. Laugh at Your Mistakes

Laugh is a dissolution agent, a very powerful one. It can melt everything around, if properly used. If not used at all, you’re going to become hard as a rock. And equally difficult to change. Allow laughing to dissolve some of your frozen approaches, attitudes or mental paths. Lose yourself in a smile.

Make a little fun of yourself every once in a while. Or let others do it. The trick is to keep a functional link between your mistakes and your sense of humor, as feeble as it may be at times. The dissolving effect of this link will help you overcome the consequences of your mistakes faster than anyone else.

Sooner than you think, the fine art of making mistakes will teach you the true value of laughing. Not only you’re going to develop a new, greatly improved sense of humor (which may seem strange to your peers, I agree) but you’ll start to actually enjoy your life. With all those mistakes. Or even because of them.

7. Don’t Quit

Quitting is the mother of all mistakes. Whatever you want, just go for it. Whatever you’re after, follow it. Follow your goal, don’t lose sight of your dream. Obsess over it, if that’s making it more real. Fantasize if that’s bringing it closer. Just don’t allow yourself to quit and ruin all the progress you’ve made so far.

If there will be only one fundamental principle of the art of making mistakes, that would be the one. You can forget all of the above, as long as you’re obeying this one. Quitters are just empty forms mimicking life. They lost their joy of life, their goals, their dreams.

Their infinite inner power is at lose, waiting for some random trigger to be used by somebody else. Yes, you did a few mistakes in your life and yes, you’ll probably do some more. But the fundamental question is not why and how did them.

The fundamental question is: do you really want to be the unconscious toy of somebody else? Because that’s going to happen when you’re quitting.

***

Now that you read the principles, it’s time to sum up the core of the fine art of making mistakes. And that would be only 3 simple sentences (sorry if you’re waiting for more):

1. You can’t grow without making mistakes.

2. You can’t grow without accepting the mistakes you made.

3. Whatever you want, just go out and do it: you may be wrong, but you can’t tell it unless you start doing it.


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30 Responses to The Fine Art of Making Mistakes

  • That’s really a Fine Art that someone should invest himself into learning to master. Great points Dragos, I loved also the apparent “simple” 3 sentences summing up the ideas in the post!
    .-= Madalina´s last blog ..Tu esti cel ales =-.

  • Great post. I loved the “pour in some shame and social pressure and you’ll have one big poisoned cocktail”.

    And I certainly agree that there is no such thing as a ready made solution. No one else can see what is right for you right now.

    What I don’t necessary agree with is to ‘stay actionable’, ‘blunder big time’ and ‘don’t quit’.

    Stay actionable might not always be the best way, as then you would miss the opportunity to look at it more objective. But maybe it works just like that for me, or maybe it is more a female thing, I don’t know.

    Blunder big time might work for some people and in some circumstances, but I think there is much to say for practising before you ‘go public’ so to speak. But I do think the courage is very important. I just think it is more useful if you had some practise first.

    And don’t quit might be a solution in many cases, but there are times you realise you have to go into another direction. But if you say don’t quit in doing what you believe in, I agree.

    And I absolutely see it is an art to make mistakes and learn from them!
    .-= Annemieke´s last blog ..Creative Development =-.

  • You definitely can’t grow without making mistakes. God, we live only once after all, so stupid to not do something just because you might make a mistake!
    Great points Dragos, I resonate with every one of them!
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers.com´s last blog ..you won’t love THERE if you don’t love HERE first =-.

  • Great post: I don’t remember whom should I give credit for this saying, but it is so profound: “once you learn from your own mistake, that mistake ceases to be a failure anymore, as it transforms into a valuable lesson”.

    One quick thought on the “Don’t Quit” advice: I used to be really clingy on my own struggle to get through any number of mistakes, just to get things done – not anymore :) So, I prefer a variation of “Don’t Quit” as rather “Know When to Quit”.

    But really great insights, thats for posting this,

    Cheers,

    Bogdan
    .-= Secara´s last blog ..The Butterfly Effect =-.

  • The very act of doing something opens yourself up to the possibility of making mistakes – and it’s all too easy to take the mistake personally and conclude “well, I’ll just stop taking action then.”

    But as you pointed out, this is the wrong approach to take – every mistake is a learning experience, and as long as you keep going you’ll just be stronger for it.

    Thanks for your tips, especially “Laugh at Your Mistakes” – a little laughter can do a lot to lighten tension!

  • A Quiter never wins
    and a winner never quits!

  • Great post Dragos – nicely laid out too. Accepting our mistakes is key. It can actually be very empowering because we are drawing our attention to something that needs fixing and that puts as at a much greater advantage than those who neglect their mistakes. I think this is a really important difference for anyone who is pursuing a path of personal growth.
    .-= Steven | The Emotion Machine´s last blog ..How To Create Your Own Self-Hypnosis Audio =-.

  • Great post on mistakes, Dragos. I think too many people let mistakes bother them that they end up over analyzing about the mistakes they have made. If I could add one more onto your list (if I happened to not catch it), it would be, “Learn from Your Mistakes”. I think this is what mistakes are for; they are here to teach us, not to scare us. Like your 10th tip, we should never quit, but use tips as a learning mechanism to help overcome the greatest obstacles that we face in life.
    .-= Hulbert´s last blog ..Do Your Blogging Struggles Still Bother You? =-.

  • This was a great article, Dragos

    I think it’s so easy to beat ourselves up over our mistakes and think that we are alone in making huge ones. Not true! As long as we learn from our mistakes, we can improve ourselves.

    It reminds me of Bob Ross who used to say that there were no mistakes, only ‘happy accidents’.

    Karen

  • Wonderful Post!
    As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes. – Mel Brooks

    Basically “Life is a Learning Curve” and the only way to succeed is to go for it, make mistake, accept it and learn from it.

    Great Work.

    Cheers,
    Cheryl Paris Blog
    .-= Cheryl Paris´s last blog ..How to boost your attitude to success =-.

  • Hi Dragos,

    Thank you for putting a simple but important concept in a thought provoking way.

    Learning from mistakes is one we all agree needs to happen but in reality only a few actually put into place the new learning and take action accordingly.

    Having regrets whether we make a small mistake or one that caused someone significant harm (intentionally or otherwise) is quite normal. Just like we need to accept that we can and will make mistakes we also need to accept that regret is almost like an automated human response, even if only for a split second. Regretting the mistake is not the problem as most often it runs a temporary course. When we keep beating ourselves up over and over again and refuse to let go of regret, we deny ourselves access to the valuable lessons our mistakes could have taught us and instead weave a story to defend ourselves and whin about being a victim of other people or circumstances.

    Guilt may be a waste of time but nevertheless prevails because people can be harsh on themselves and not forgive themselves for making mistakes especially if the perceived stakes are very high and affects others as well. They need to learn to forgive themselves fully and also be given the opportunity to do the same. Once this is done one could go on to master the art of making mistakes.

    With warmth,

    Rani
    .-= Rani Bora´s last blog ..What would you rather do when you get upset with a loved one – suppress or express your emotions? =-.

  • I love this. I’ve always admired people who can own up to their mistakes honestly and gracefully.
    .-= Meg at Demanding Joy´s last blog ..We Are a Production! =-.

  • Another great post, Dragos. I don’t really make mistakes but I will forward this to all my friends and family who do.

    Just kidding. I learned a lot!
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..Watch U.S. Olympics, Netflix, Hulu, and Your Favorites from Outside the U.S. =-.

  • i read your blog and i really lough and learn lot of things. one of our political leader said one small mistake give big success i remember that. i like your Art of Making Mistakes. thanks for sharing nice blog

    Best regard
    Nepal travel

  • Laser beam article to the dna Dragos. Thank you! I love the phrase lose yourself in a smile. :) I actually wrote one with the title. Let’s read the perfection in our errors. I deeply believe this is a conversation that should be always in the front line because it has so many people trapped in the illusion of separation, competition, and secrecy driven by a linear hopeless perception of our errors. It is perverse. As perverse if not absurd as trying to make something into something it is not. Thanks again!
    .-= Luz Aguirrebena´s last blog ..1,000 people’s thinking can affect the thinking of 1 million. No kidding. – Soul Hang Out =-.

  • One thing common about us human human beings no matter where we are or we we are is the fact that we all MAKE MISTAKES. Maing mistakes is something we will never be able to escape. However, i appreciate your post becaue you were able to use this concept which is generally viewd in a negative concept ito an art towards productivity and self imporvement. no body is not perfect, but inorder to live life to the fullest we should learn how to view our imperfections perfectly, reflect on the things we vcan change and learn from it.

  • Mistake is the first step of progress.

  • making mistakes is the wrong ones for a many times but ones this will the body’s a good to progress the future company.

  • Accepting our mistakes is our way to look proactively on it, learn lessons and become a better person. Even in practice to make us perfect, we always commit mistakes. That is why even if it is too impossible to be perfect, let us still keep our direction to perfection.

  • [...] better resource than I could ever create comes in The Fine Art of Making Mistakes by someone named Dragos. The article acknowledges that making mistakes isn’t necessarily a [...]

  • [...] Read a fellow blogger’s steps on “The Art of Making Mistakes” [...]

  • [...] Making mistakes is a part of learning—they lead to more experience and wisdom, but making financial mistakes isn’t necessary if you’re smart about it. Remember that you don’t always need that expensive accessory or that extra outfit. Fitting in shouldn’t come at a cost of going deep into debt. [...]

  • I enjoyed your post, and it is all very well and good in theory, but what do you do when other people and systems won’t let you move forward? What do you say to the people who, I don’t know, would like to pursue a meaningful career in law enforcement but can’t because they made a stupid mistake to get out of the military when they were young and dumb, and got a General Discharge. Its not even a bad discharge, but because of certain extenuating circumstances regarding the discharge no Police Department will even look at this individual even though its been five years.

    So what do you say to people that are more than willing to man up and move on, but aren’t allowed to by a system that demands perfection at all times?

  • Brilliant.I need to post this on my wall. My mistakes paralyze me at times. I know better but don’t do better. This is now one of my favorite blogs. Glad I found you .

    Roberta

  • [...] great article I found about The Art Of Making Mistakes is a must read ! Enjoy Make Mistakes And Move Forward Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend [...]

  • [...] My favorite part about university is the fact that were constantly told that making mistakes is ok as long as we learn from them and correct ourselves next time, but i don’t know how true this is. Yeah small mistakes are easily redeemable as long as their small, once you make a bigger mistake its curtains for you. Though i must admit Ryerson is much better at allowing these mistakes then most other universities it still baffles me how they give you a second chance, as long as you do it perfectly. I just found out through the best way possible that i hadn’t completed all four comments on the weekly module, now its a simple task, write four comments and you good, but apparently if something goes wrong or you forget or your busy, or whatever your reason may be, you miss one, and your dead. Fun times, luckily my failure has granted me something much better then i had thought could come of such a problem, i learned that if you are going to go down never lie down and take it fight until you can’t. So im emailing the fresh start program to see what can be done about this, now i might be already done, but if i accept it as game over then its just that, but if i email and email and meet, and complain and ask, and prod then theres a chance i could still be in this. So my suggestion is make mistake and make them yours, own them, because the best and most effective way to learn how to do something is finding out for yourself how to fail at doing it. Here’s a little something to help you discover the art of making mistakes. [...]

  • [...] this week are about getting started with taking measurable steps toward your goal… NOW.The Fine Art of Making Mistakes – Dragos RouaEverybody makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them or takes them well. [...]

  • thanks man i needed that. im learning to be a nurse at the moment and its fups glaore at the moment but WE GOTTA KEEP ON KEEIN ON. with joy and humour :)

  • Retno Satriyo says: April 20, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Amazing post. It opens up a long-time-locked box of the good side of making mistakes

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