Oh, a mistake - just say that to yourself a moment and notice what thoughts and feelings arise...
So which type of mistake did you imagine? Forgetting to lock the door? Running at too fast a pace? Losing your passport? Waiting for the kettle to boil, then realising it was not plugged in? Forgetting your spouse's birthday?
There are four main types of mistake we can make. The great news, is that all of these help us to grow and learn. Some mistakes make us smile with an innocent and positive outcome, others, are far more serious, and the lessons are far deeper and meaningful.
1. Stretch Mistakes - These are largely positive, and occur when we are trying to learn something new. We push ourselves beyond our norm or comfort zone, rather than just going through the motions. An example here may be trying a new yoga pose where you push beyond your norm, and discover something very valuable. I now know, that attempting a one armed wheel will leave me crunched in a heap on the floor!
2. Aha- Moment Mistakes - Again, a positive outcome, where perhaps trial and error have crept in, using something incorrectly, wrong assumptions, or just pure innocent ignorance. We learn from this, and typically increase our close support network. I recall joining a music group, and not being great at remembering names, I created a Facebook Group - which I thought would just group people together for my purpose. Apparently not! What I innocently created by mistake, was a great networking tool for the members to communicate and share information. My initiative and enthusiasm was applauded!
3. Sloppy Mistakes - These of course are usually avoidable. We become complacent with what we do, take things for granted, and do not take care enough or devote enough attention. Although seemingly negative, these mistakes do act as a reminder to us, again, something we can learn from.
4. High Stakes Mistakes - These perhaps come when we are heavily outcome focused. An error or mistake can lead to a seemingly different outcome than the one we desired. Take for example studying for an exam. If the whole purpose is to pass the exam and not to retain any knowledge afterwards, then the outcome is the key issue. IF however, as in the case of may professional exams, the aim is to enhance knowledge to become more competent in our roles, then whether you score 24 or 25 (perhaps the difference between pass and fail) really should make no difference. The aim was to enhance knowledge (which often gets measured by a one off shot at a random selection of questions rather than really being able to demonstrate competence), rather than just being lucky with the right ratio of A, B C and D answers. We learn to look at the point of the exercise, even if a mistake points us to the initial disappointing outcome.
Mistakes can be great teachers to us, in which ever form they come.
“It is well to cultivate a friendly feeling towards error, to treat it as a companion inseparable from our lives, as something having a purpose which it truly has.” – Maria Montessori