No Mistakes

I sent out my first email newsletter three days later than I promised. I goofed. I set the scheduler to go out late on Sunday, or at least I thought I did, but I didn’t catch it and send it until Wednesday. It was a mistake. Or was it?What if I told you that you are incapable of making a mistake? Stick with me. I challenged this too when I was introduced to the idea. Being a scientist, I broke the concept down and placed it in a vacuum and tested it. My challenge to my teacher involved my walk to class in Manhattan that day. I said that I took a wrong turn on 44th. That seemed simple enough. To get to class on time, I should have taken a left, and I took a right. Felt like a mistake to me.

You may be thinking that I’m going down the ‘everything happens for a reason’ path, and I’m not. This is not a story about how I met a very interesting person on my unintended path, how we had a life-changing conversation, and how he gave me a winning lottery ticket. In fact, I realized my error within half a block, I turned around, and my day went on as expected.

This is more a story about ‘everything happens. Now what?’. Breaking that scenario down, what really happened? When I came to 44th street, I had a choice; right or left. A left would have taken me directly to class. A right put me in a new situation. The real point is what I chose to do in that new situation. I could have stressed out and started making random turns hoping to find a recognizable landmark, and maybe getting myself lost. I could have gotten angry at myself, thinking I’m terrible with directions. I always do this! I could have given up and headed back to the hotel thinking class just wasn’t meant to be for me.

The lesson is in how we judge our actions. In those moments when we think we’ve made a mistake, did we really? Or did we make the best choice with the information we had at the time? We didn’t get the result we expected, so now we’re in a new place. Now what? If we trap ourselves in anger or apathy or self-criticism, we lose the opportunity to make the choice to change our thoughts and feelings and actions. Mine is a simple example. Getting mad at myself for taking a wrong turn seems silly, but we do this to ourselves all the time. Think about the last time you felt guilty. Why did you feel that way? What new situation did you create, and what could you do with it?

I meant to send an email on Sunday that happened to be about a different subject. I thought I set the scheduler correctly, but I didn’t, so I sent my email on Wednesday. For a short time, I was a little stressed. What will you think of me, I thought. I told you I would do something, and I didn’t. Turns out, I’m not a terrible person for it, and it gave me the opportunity to talk about mistakes. And opportunities.

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