When we think of success, our minds naturally zero in on the desired outcome. Success is the ultimate goal, the end product, the final result we wanted all along.
While successfully attaining an individual outcome is gratifying, there’s the whole process from desire to result that we tend to gloss over, not to mention the bigger perspective we get on what’s possible to desire (and achieve).
- Mistakes move us to learn
Sure, failure smarts, but when the sting wears off, we find ourselves more open to the feedback of the experience (hence the saying, “There is no failure, only feedback.”) Mistakes knock us off our rigid axis, freeing us from the delusion that the way were doing it was the best way, let alone the only way. Although we of course knew this intellectually, mistakes help us absorb this truth very quickly.
- Mistakes give rise to healthy self-compassion
It’s a truth that’s unfortunately lost on too many people. In contrast to the stereotypical drill sergeant model of continual butt kicking, showing ourselves self-compassion is a key motivator to keep progressing toward our goals. Research confirms that compassionate acceptance of our own mistakes enhances our enthusiasm and determination to move forward toward our goals.
- Mistakes free us from sabotaging fears and help us take more positive risks
It’s amazing the number fear can do on our health efforts. When we fear a certain outcome (e.g. regaining the weight, injuring ourselves, not training adequately for a race, coming in last with something, doing anything we felt pressured to take on, etc.), we give it energy and attention. Our mind at times can even compulsively get wound around it. We become so entranced with trying desperately to tread the edge that we end up falling right in.
- Mistakes reboot our motivation
It might seem counterintuitive. What knocks us on our duff is what’s going to help us win the race? With a little resilience, yes. We admit we haven’t been living up to our healthy ideals, and it’s taken a toll. Even when we’ve been chugging along in the usual routine, it’s easy to get complacent, easy to check out. We might have discipline to keep going with whatever healthy behaviors we’ve put into place, but we can drift away from the core of what we’re doing.
- Mistakes move us from an improvement mindset to an expansion mindset
Mistakes move us out of the small view of success as honing a skill to (supposed) perfection and into a enlarging perspective that embraces success as living into encompassing actualization and fulfillment. To move on from them, we view mistakes against the larger backdrop of the vision we have for our lives. Doing so helps us see them in right proportion (i.e. not a big deal in the grand scheme). We surrender the loss, in other words, to re-affirm the vision and gather ourselves to keep pushing forward.