Making mistakes can be a source of true peace.
What a ridiculous statement, no? How could it be so, and why does it never feel that way at the moment?
For those determined to move ahead tangibly—both personally and professionally—and not just to aspire, the follow-up question, “What can be gleaned from this?” is key. None of us can know at all times where to step and where to avoid, what to do and what to avoid, how to embrace and how to avoid; such a valuable avoidance instinct can only be built up over time, over problems solved, over situations lived through.
As long as we recognize that being perfect is not only unrealistic but impossible, and that freely admitting inevitable mistakes is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than weakness, we open ourselves to lasting progress and development. The instinct to cover up mistakes or to spin them in a more favorable light is surely natural; who, after all, wants to walk around with errors hanging from the emotional rafters, with slips stuck to public message boards?
The international, highly public political, financial, social and shut-down drama that continues to play out in DC offers a fascinating example of someone who polarizes, fights hard and defies expectations of loss without admitting his mistakes, and who owns a corresponding and increasingly low approval rating.
Once an identified problem is addressed without delay—an essential component given that lingering over or not confronting it can easily result in its being worse by an order of magnitude, which is precisely what is happening across the Capitol—most of the time all impacted parties can move on with trust and confidence that it won’t be repeated. This fact can lead not only to meaningful peace, but can minimize the corrosive aspects of social ills, politics, relationship strains and rafts of stress.
The Spanish philosopher, novelist and poet George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Must we continue to invest our hopes for stability into those whose hard drives are inclined to erase lessons from our past?
That we can mentally store our mistakes and dark clouds—that we can call them up purposefully as a reference point for how to act positively and what to steer clear of—represent true gifts, wrapped with the twin ribbons of perseverance and character.