We all make mistakes. Here’s how to make the most of them.

I recently had a talk with someone who had made a mistake. They didn’t break any rules or laws. The mistake was more of a personal accountability issue. It was like a failure on a mental fortitude challenge. The kind of mistake that won’t get you in trouble with the law, but it could get you voted off an island.

After discussing the mistake I shared 2 simple lessons with this person. Because there are lessons in everything. Kind of like high fructose corn syrup.

The 2 lessons:

  1. Know how The Ideal You would handle this type of situation. The Ideal You provides a north star for navigating all decisions.
  2. Allow this experience to help your self-confidence, not hurt it. This is the key difference between a learning and a losing situation.

When you identify a mistake and can quickly learn and adjust from it, the mistake is a win. A positive. A way to quickly get better. You fail fast, learn, and improve. It’s a basic success formula for startups and sitcoms with teenage casts.

When you make a mistake don’t continue to beat yourself up over it. Because then you deal with both the mistake and the loss of self-confidence. Which is a lose-lose proposition.

Mistake identification and correction should always lead to both growth and an increase in confidence. After all, you have just learned how to avoid the same mistake in the future. You are better equipped. You have more experience. And more knowledge. All of which should make you feel more confident. Like Demi Lovato. Or like you used Sure deodorant.

Pay careful attention to your mental trajectory when you leave a mistake. If you are still pointing down, you are mistaking wrong. You have already made your error. You have learned your lesson. You already know what to do better next time. So point your attitude arrow up and to the right. It is time for growth and improvement. Time to rise and shine.

Key Takeaway

When you make a mistake learn from it. Let the learning add to your confidence. Emerge from a mistake better and more prepared for whatever comes your way next. Give yourself permission to be an amateur at everything. Then just keep getting better with every mistake you make.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The reason you make mistakes is because you are human.

Easter is not about eggs.

It’s not about baskets and bunnies.

It’s not about bonnets and brunch. (Despite the Pavlovian response I just had to the word brunch. #drooling)

Easter is about forgiveness.

Easter is a reminder that we all make mistakes. That we all fall short of the ideal. That we often offend or disappoint others through our actions or inactions.

We are imperfect humans. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we don’t always do the right thing. (Sorry Spike Lee.)

The human mind is the most complicated of all machines. Our outputs are not always logical. Just ask Will Smith.

Remember that you are on your own learning journey. And so am I.

Canceling a human for making a mistake is a mistake.

You’re only human. You’re supposed to make mistakes.

-Billy Joel

It is far better to celebrate growth and improvement through the infinite Earthly game of trial and error.

Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

Key Takeaway

You have been forgiven by a higher power. That is the great news of Easter.

Pass it on.


*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more life lessons I have learned on my journey check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The valuable life lesson Will Smith could use right now.

Everyone makes mistakes. Will Smith reminded us of that on Sunday night. And if you are a learning, growing, improving human your mistakes make you better prepared for the next challenge life throws your way. And life is going to throw more challenges your way. It’s what life does.

Early in my career, I made a mistake kinda like Will Smith’s. Granted, there were no Oscars involved. It was not on national television. I wasn’t mad at Chris Rock for saying that my wife looked like one of the fittest, most beautiful Hollywood actresses of all time. (You go Demi!) And I didn’t actually touch anyone.

But I did overreact to a coworker who had done something wrong.

In the moments that followed my overreaction, my boss gave me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career. He simply and calmly told me:

When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.

It was great advice. It perfectly reframed my mistake for me. I could see that I was in the right, until I wasn’t. Yes, I had been wronged. But I became wronger. The court of public opinion would have acquitted me, until my behavior was such that they could no longer support me. #IWishIKnewHowToAcquitYou…

For two decades now that piece of advice has been written into my decision-making code. When I am processing how to respond to aggravations, slights, irritations, and insults I frequently access that code. And it always helps me make better decisions. As a result, I don’t give my power of rightness back to those who have wronged me.

Key Takeaway

When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For a full collection of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

A lesson from my son on the value of mistakes.

Over the past week my family and I enjoyed a spring break trip to Texas. On Good Friday my son Johann and I got up early to nab poolside seats for our last day before returning home. In fact, we got down to the pool before it was open for the day. But there was no moose out front telling us the pool was closed for two weeks for cleaning and repairs. So we found some Adirondack chairs near an outdoor fireplace, and sat and talked, like fathers and sons should.

Good Talk Russ

Good Talk Russ

Johann is one of my favorite people to talk to because his mind dances. We talked about whether Star Wars took place in the past or the future. While I said it all seemed futuristic, he reminded me that it took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away. We covered funny Chris Pratt lines from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And we talked about the leaning tower of Pisa.

The Leaning Tower

As we discussed the leaning tower from a long time ago in a country far, far away, Johann shared an interesting observation. He said, ‘You know Dad, no one would care about the tower if it wasn’t leaning. It is the leaning that makes it interesting.’

I asked Johann if he thought there was a life lesson to be learned from the leaning tower. He quickly replied,

‘Even our failures can be a work of art.’  -Johann Albrecht (age 11)

Key Takeaway

Don’t beat yourself up over your failures. They make you and your story more interesting. Make the lean in your tower work for you. Make a wrong turn at Albuquerque, then make that your catch phrase. Don’t avoid your mistakes. Embrace them. They are often blessing that pay dividends for years, or even centuries to come.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

Your mistakes are your most important milestones.

I read as much as I can. I am always searching for knowledge, wisdom, inspiration, perspective and a good laugh. Because I am always searching, I often find what I am looking for.

DaVinci

This morning I was reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Leonardo DaVinci. On page 59, Isaacson describes the flaws in DaVinci’s painting, The Annunciation. The painting depicts the moment when the angel Gabriel breaks the news to the Virgin Mary that she is going to become the mother of Christ. And Mary is all like ‘WTF!?!’

1200px-Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Annunciazione_-_Google_Art_Project
‘Hey Mary! How’s it going? Um, God wanted me to tell you that he wants you to have his son. Oh, and you get to ride a Donkey!’

Flawed Genius

The painting isn’t perfect. Because Leo was trying out some interesting new moves. The magic of this painting is revealed when you look at it from the angle he wanted you to see it from. But I think the real magic comes from Isaacson’s commentary:

‘In the process, he made some mistakes. But even the mistakes, which came from innovating and experimenting, heralded his genius.’ – Walter Isaacson from Leonardo DaVinci

Way To Grow!

I love that. I like to think that my mistakes are evidence that I am trying. That I am pushing beyond what I know how to do well, into areas of growth, improvement and innovation. I am more afraid of not growing that I am of messing things up.

Key Takeaway

Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You, your skills, and your abilities are iterative. Don’t stop at You 1.0. Try more. Learn more. Innovate and experiment more. Push yourself as far as you can. Discover what You 100.0 is capable of. And if you do, someone may write a book about you too.