You Will Make Mistakes; Try to Make New Ones

Man in suit carrying a briefcase standing at a fork in the road

Okay, so let’s just be clear about this from the start: Anyone who has never made a mistake has never made anything.

When they asked Michelangelo how he sculpted “David,” the famed artist answered with a shrug, “I simply chipped away the pieces that didn’t belong.”

Anyone who wants to turn their life into a work of art has to pick up a chisel and get rid of the parts that don’t belong. If it was a good enough course of action for Michelangelo, don’t delay.

Every discovery in science comes from coming up with the wrong answer. Do that enough times, with an attentive eye, and you arrive at a discovery.

Edison liked to say that every mistake was part of his discovery process. To gain traction toward a goal in one’s life requires no less. Acknowledging our mistakes is where the rubber meets the road.

Bottom line, we all make mistakes, but the question is whether we’re making progress. Bottom line-bottom line, we all make mistakes, but the challenge is to make new ones.

Here’s the key: If you’re making the same mistakes over and over, it may be time to admit that this is neurotic behavior.

The most common source of neurotic behavior is choosing to do what is negative but familiar over what is healthy but new. There are many reasons for this, but here’s the short hand. Our brain likes to run information down the same canals it ran the information down the time before and the time before that.

Because of brain physiology we are often drawn to a habit that does not serve us but serves the brain’s habit. We can cry for help, but screaming to the guards that we want to be let out is fruitless, as we are the ones keeping ourselves incarcerated.

Addiction to any substance is first an addiction to a state of mind. “I think/know I feel better when I do this, whatever the ‘this’ is.” It is an addiction to a mistake in our self-understanding that we have made so often we cannot shake our brain from thinking it wants us to think that way again.

Every human being suffers from this habit. The question is, “What is your habit in the face of a habit that does not serve you?”

A problem avoided is a crisis invented. We all make mistakes; make new ones. It’s not now or never, but now is never again.

Noah benShea is one of North America’s most respected and beloved poet-philosophers. An international bestselling author of 23 books translated into 18 languages, his inspirational thoughts have appeared on more than 30 million Starbucks coffee cups, and his weekly columns on life were published for five years by The New York Times Regional Syndicate. In addition to his many other accomplishments, he serves as Philosopher in Residence for Foundations Recovery Network. Find out more HERE.

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