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How Mistakes Can Build Us

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How Mistakes Can Build Us

We’ve all been there. You made a decision or acted on an impulse and BOOM: a mistake. Afterwards, maybe you had a rush of embarrassment or a wave of shame. Let’s all be honest: no one looks forward to messing up but it’s something every human experiences. We have two choices after an error. Firstly, we could wallow in our embarrassment. Maybe we continue making the same mistakes because the embarrassment impedes introspection. Or…we learn how mistakes can build us.

I struggled greatly to take responsibility for my mistakes as a kid and young adult.

I learned from a young age that making mistakes in my household didn’t lead to a learning moment or a punishment. No, an error in my childhood home lead to abuse. So ultimately I understood that taking responsibility = YOU ARE UNSAFE. It has taken a decade to unlearn what I was taught as a kid. I now know it’s not only safe to make simple mistakes but it’s a part of being a human! So I want to share with you 5 mistakes I’ve made and how the lessons learned have built me into the person I am today:

  1. I would ride my gas tank as close to E as I could before filling up. On my way home from work in bumper to bumper traffic, I felt my truck begin the sputter. My car died halfway into a parking space after cutting across traffic. I learned that just because your car says “5 miles to empty” doesn’t mean you have 5 miles. It also didn’t mean I was a bad person.

    It meant I needed gas 5 miles ago.

  2. I planted plants in my yard the second week of April. Are you a seasoned homeowner and laughing at me? I learned that northern Illinois has winter, false spring, second winter, and true spring. Second winter demolished my plants.

    Take it from me: don’t plant until AFTER Mother’s Day.

  3. Hanging a 10-pound picture frame with a 3-pound anchor is not good for the wall or the frame. 30 minutes after “installation” the crash of glass told me and the entire household “YOU FAILED”. I learned that spouses can get angry at errors but anger doesn’t mean abuse. Yes, I was mortified. Yes, I made an expensive mistake. But knowing I was in no danger for my misjudgment allowed me to learn.

    …and buy a stud finder and a set of proper anchors.

  4. Water resistant doesn’t mean waterproof.  Water resistant means products are able to resist the penetration of water, but not entirely. Technically, waterproof means that the object is impermeable to water, no matter how much time it spends in water. The difference is important.

    R.I.P. to the WATER RESISTANT bluetooth speaker I forgot out during a recent monsoon.

  5. Are you learning lots of homeowner stuff while quarantined? Me too! Especially working with lumber and saws to finish our deck, fence, gate, and random Pinterest projects. Don’t rush and start cutting because you’re excited to start and finish a project.

    Measure twice, cut once. Or you’ll be heading back to the hardware store for another round of wood.

I’m a big believer that if we are humiliated for mistakes early on, it can feel impossible to take responsibility. And how do we change our behaviors if we cannot take an honest look at our actions?  If I never learned that I am safe to take ownership, I don’t know how much personal growth there would have been these last 10 years. It’s not that I love making mistakes, that would be crazy. No, I now love owning my mistakes; that ownership has helped build me!

How Mistakes Can Build Us

How Mistakes Build Us

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

How Mistakes Can Build Us

FULL TRANSCRIPT. (The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Be Seen and Heard Journey. Please note that this episode, like all BSH Journey episodes, features Victor speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited.)

Hey, it’s Victor, welcome to the be seen in her journey. Thank you so much for being with me today. Today’s video blog and podcast is about how mistakes can build us. How mistakes can actually make us stronger if we make that decision to do so. See, I think the biggest force in our lives is the power to choose, and I learned that from Tony Robbins and it makes perfect sense.I was running this morning and listening to him on my on on one of his podcasts and he said this:

“It’s not the events that define us. It’s what we do with those events.”

And you could put anything there. You could say it’s not the adversity that defines you. It’s what you do with that adversity. It’s not the mistakes that you make, it’s what you do with those mistakes. Now I raise my hand.

I have a tendency to beat myself up when I’m making a bad choice. Maybe as a parent or as a friend. And a lot of times I have to reflect. When I reflect, I usually at the end of it have the ability to say I’m sorry. I think that’s really, really important. But I always find as I get older, I always ask the question:

“What can I learn from this?”

Here’s an example of when I was a student back in eighth grade, maybe seventh grade. Walking around the playground, I thought  was a little bit better than everyone else even though I was a good kid. But I think I was modeling my father’s behavior at home. Which is not an excuse, but I was a kid and that’s what I was taught: it’s okay to pick on other people

So I remember going to school one day and I picked a fight with a kid. We went outside and I remember we were ready to fight and all our friends circled us. I didn’t know how to fight. I went to put up my hands. And before I could do that, he punched me right in the face. I was down and I was crying. Now what’s that? You know, it’s humiliation, it’s embarrassment. That’s what I looked at it at first. I remember my friends laughing at me and everyone was kinda like,

“We’re done with Victor. He’s not stronger than anybody else.”

And so that was a defining moment for me because here’s the deal. I remember going on later in life, in my schooling, and that same boy started picking on other kids and he continued to pick on me a little bit.

I realized at that moment that he hit me and I fell to the ground. As much as I was embarrassed, I decided, I don’t want to continue doing this. I don’t want to continue picking on kids so I feel better about myself. Then I took that focus and I brought it inward. I started to put all my attention on my schoolwork and being a good person.

That made me really who I am today. So I always called that “the punch that saved my life“. What’s interesting is he went onto high school and he wasn’t the most productive student. I look at it as if I would have won that fight.

I potentially could have gone on and became a full-out bully and had a different way of looking at life. So I’m not saying that we all have to get punched in our faces to realize that, but we’ve all been knocked down.

We’ve all made mistakes in our lives. It’s taking that mistake and turning it on itself and saying, “you know what? I’m not perfect and I can live with that!” So what am I going to do from this moment on? I’m going to take charge of my life. I’m going to take every mistake or obstacle and I am going to own it. I am going to learn from it and I’m going to grow from there. And I think that’s so important that it is the secret to happiness and success. Again, I want to say thank you so much. Please share these videos and blogs and podcasts with your friends and family and remember, every child, no matter how old they are, deserve to be seen and heard. See you next time

How Mistakes Can Build Us