“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” - Steve Maraboli
It’s early morning. As I sit on my front porch, with hot coffee warming my hands, I know.
I know that once again I’ve made a mistake.
If I could, I would yell and scream at myself in frustration.
Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I seem to figure it out? Why don’t I ever learn?
I close my eyes shut with frustration.
Another mistake - another lesson learned.
Why can’t I just get this right?
I mean my career - my purpose - have always been in the forefront of my mind. Dominating my decisions, my activities, where I go and what I do. It’s not like this is something I take lightly. Rather I take this rather seriously. So why do I keep screwing it up?!
An exasperated gasp escapes my lips.
At least I’m willing to recognize the mistake, I tell myself.
This offers little consolation.
I can think of a number of reasons for this latest mistake; expectations, fear, desire for stability, along with others…
But why does it keep happening? Why does it feel like I’m just bumping along from mistake to mistake?
Well it turns out, I soon realize, that I’m just looking at it all wrong. Rather than consider every mistake a problem, I should alter my perspective.
Mistakes are learning opportunities. A chance to redefine yourself and discover what it is that makes you, you - and to create the life you want.
A chance to cut off the pieces that you know don’t work and cultivate the pieces you’ve discovered that do - and focus on those.
As H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah said, “Making mistakes is the art of discovery!”
So although it may seem like I’m just bumping along, I may have it all wrong. Rather, it turns out that these mistakes might just be what is directing me towards that “thing” that is right. That will make me come alive, in all the best ways.
In fact, when thinking back, that is exactly how a number of positive experiences have happened - as a result of mistakes.
I wouldn’t have ended up working at a hostel if I hadn’t left my job just a few months before and was looking for a creative way to cut down my living costs in Cape Town. And if I didn’t apply to that job, I would never have discovered my fiery passion for the youth tourism industry and seen first hand how it can positively change the lives of both staff and visitors.
So ultimately, it was a positive mistake. It was a step forward, not a step back.
Yes it was painful. Yes the transition was hard. And yes, I had absolutely no idea I would fall so hard - especially because I thought that I had found the job position of my dreams.
Turned out I was wrong - and what I thought I wanted, wasn’t actually the best thing for me.
I would have never known that had I not tried to give it a shot. And I could possibly still be working towards that now if I hadn’t jumped in with both feet forward.
So in hindsight, the full committal to nearly a complete failure was a good thing, and it directed me towards where I want to go now.
So now that I find myself, once again, in a place where things aren't quite right, at least I know that I gave this particular lifestyle and job (different from what I have done previously) a shot - and in the process have discovered new aspects of what I like and what I do not.
Which ultimately directs my next steps.
So in the end, I guess I should look at making mistakes as an art, because that is really all it is.
Mistakes are failing forward and onwards to better things.
Because ultimately life is not without mistakes and failure. Rather it is full of it. Both large and small. So what you do with it is what matters - more than anything else.
So what is it for you? How have your mistakes allowed you to fall forward?