By Alyssa Gregory

5 Reasons Why Mistakes Make Me Happy

By Alyssa Gregory

MistakeA few months ago, I posted about the best way to handle a mistake when you mess up with your work. At the end of the day, after a blunder has been corrected and smoothed over, the learning potential from the mess up is immense. But only if you’re open to learning from it.

Some of the best lessons I’ve learned in business and in life have been precipitated by a mistake. Here are five of the biggest reasons why I value the mistakes I make and take time to learn from them.

1. Mistakes remind me that I am not perfect.

As a disillusioned perfectionist, making a mistake serves as a great reminder that it’s okay to strive for the best, but no matter how perfect I want to be, I simply am not perfect. Instead of being discouraged by this realization, it helps lift some of that self-imposed pressure from my shoulders and makes me recognize and appreciate my limitations.

2. Mistakes let me exercise my free will.

Sometimes, I make mistakes because I don’t listen to the (good) advice of others, or just ignore that little voice speaking in the back of my mind that always knows better. Although some of these situations could have potentially been avoided, I have found that sometimes making the decision on my own, even when it results in a mess up, is well worth the freedom I have to make any decision I want to at any time.

3. Mistakes remind me how fortunate I am.

If you’re like me, you tend to forget how fortunate you are in life, even with all of the challenges you may face on a daily basis. My mistakes force me to take a realistic look at all that I have and simply be thankful for it. Ultimately, I’m reminded that life’s challenges and struggles are all relative.

4. Mistakes are motivating.

I don’t think I have ever been as motivated to do something well as I have been after messing up. Making a mistake is like a personal dare that makes me work harder, learn faster, and do better. This kind of challenge is not only motivating, but it ramps up my focus and commitment to succeed.

5. Mistakes force me to keep taking risks.

Making a mistake says there is an area in your life where you need to improve. And improvement can’t come unless you’re willing to risk making the same mistake again. This cycle of mistakes, learning and trying again keeps me focused on putting myself out there in order to do better.

What are some of the biggest lessons you learn from the mistakes you make?

Image credit: Zsuzsanna Kilián

  • Thanks Alyssa. Your post reminds me of one of my favorite stories that helps me get through mistakes and to not fear the next potential one. Do not fear mistakes or failures.
    When Thomas Edison was interviewed by a young reporter who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Perplexed, Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And shortly after that, and over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb.

    Thnaks again,
    Mike Stover

  • cruncher06

    Even before I got to your five reasons, I could already relate. I am prone to making mistakes. I work and have worked with many applications and have mistakes in them all; big mistakes, but I was willing to learn from them and the successes have been even bigger. Here are just a few:


    1. I used to re-enter data in spreadsheets to be distributed to over 140 offices statewide in the state I worked, quite possibly at a minimum, I re-entered over 1,000 cells of data. There were others that zipped right through entering this information. I was slow at entering and once I was done, I frequently found that I had not entered in all the information correct. Slow data entry and spending a great deal of time trying to find data entry errors was not only bad, but it wouldn’t be good for my job.

    I initiated the downloading of the data that had always been entered manually by other employees before I started working there. The data was copied and pasted into the spreadsheets, and lookup formulas were created. My work was done in seconds instead of hours, and I had data entered in faster than anyone else all because I made a mistake and learned from it.

    2.Building on the previous, mistake/success; a calculation that I had in a spreadsheet that was used, had an incorrect result. This was used to award offices according to their achievement of goals that were assigned to them. The calculation always required some manual modification and as usual I was prone to making mistakes.

    I built a database that handled not only this report but all reports that I was responsible for focusing on data integrity, accuracy, and validity. All data was not only now downloaded, this report and all other reports that I was responsible for were now data bound. I could still make a mistake, but because I knew this, I let the program handle the potential for my error, because you see I could give the wrong report, but I could not provide the wrong data on the report that I provided as even the title, date and source of the information was controlled by the database and not by me, because of a mistake.

    3.There was a request for some information that would output five lines of information that I needed to mail/FAX to an office. When I entered the parameters, I made a mistake and 5,000 pages were printed. I was even congratulated for killing a tree, only teasing of course.
    With the error in my query causing this print, I wrote code that made it so that information was returned and sent electronically and then applied it to my reports that I was responsible for. These reports were self-naming including the date and the purpose; they sorted themselves, delivered a personal e-mail to the one that needed the reports with the subject, recipient and body automatically entered. I even created a 4,000 page report(this would be the original that would normally be printed and copied) that never saw a printer. How long did it take to calculate 1/4 million records, print pdf’s, name them, sort them and send them to the appropriate person? About 20 minutes, because I made a mistake.

    4.Some might think I am trying to impress with accomplishments, but you have made a mistake.
    I never had the knowledge to do any of this on my own, I learned to collaborate with others from different fields and abilities to whom I thank, they helped me and guided me, each coming up with a part of the solution that would be the work around to my mistakes. In the end, I was able to put the pieces together, and it wasn’t me, but that virtual team that came up with amazing solutions. If it weren’t for the willingness of providing free professional networking help, I could not have accomplished what I have. But that’s also why I believe that I can accomplish anything that I am asked.

    That’s my feedback. Checked my spelling, found mistakes, didn’t check my grammar, there might be mistakes, back to my programming; something is not working and I think that I have made a mistake. :)

    Thanks Alyssa.

    Just wanted to share this with you and others as we are in the same boat and hopefully encourage others.

    Talk to you soon.

    Chris S.

  • Steve

    Well at least you ae not getting disabled from your mistakes and afraid to do anything, that is the main thing I learned from you

  • Hanne

    I have learned from mistakes that I have good and trustworthy colleagues and friends out there and that not being perfect is perfectly acceptable. Goes both ways, of course. People seem more human if they make a mistake, however rarely.

  • dilandinga

    X3j7ZW I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!

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