You WILL Mess Up, Get Over It!

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A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. -George Bernard Shaw

Simple fact…you’re going to mess up, make mistakes, hurt others and get hurt. Big ones, little ones, ones you can fix and others you can’t.

Unless…you do nothing.

I’ve had so many people ask me, over the last few years…

What if I make the wrong choice? What if do something I thought I really wanted to do, then find out I either didn’t want to do it or was going about it the wrong way?”

And, my answer is always, “what if you do?”

Rare is the opening salvo that ends up a homerun. Life is a constant stream of best guesses and course corrections. And, that’s okay. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because, it’s in the process of figuring out how to correct course and recover that our greatest moments, our rawest emotions, our deepest humanity, our triumphs and relationships rise to the surface and define who we are.

Fact is, I have not yet seen the success that wasn’t preceded by a series of mistakes.

Mistakes are just signposts that you’re one more action closer to success, but you’ve got to CHOOSE to see it that way. Because if you see mistakes, failure only as something to be avoided at all costs, you’ll end up shutting down. Withdrawing from action. Paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice.

And that, my friends, is a fate far worse than failure.

Let’s discuss…

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15 responses

15 responses to “You WILL Mess Up, Get Over It!”

  1. Joe Jacobi says:

    In the world of negotiating whitewater rapids, I’ve always say that good kayaking is a constant exercise of correcting mistakes. With more time and experience in the boat, you get better at fixing mistakes on the fly and even better, anticipating the mistakes before they happen or while they’re still “small mistakes.” Ultimately, kayaking success on the river doesn’t happen by “missing rocks” – it happens by seeing your “line through the rapid” and going for it.

    Thanks for the post. As always, thanks for sharing.

  2. Amen.


    Look, the perfectionism that our schools teach really impoverishes our ability to take risks. I’ve failed at nearly 33 more times than most do.

    But it’s the end that matters, I know how not to fail, and I’m FEARLESS now. I know hat the worst case scenario isn’t that bad. I’ve lived it. My wife still sleeps with me, my kids still love me.

    So take a chance, man…live, dream BIG pust the envelope.

  3. Sean says:

    What an awesome way to go through life and look at mistakes… or maybe we should call them “learning opportunities”.

    Learning from others mistakes might help, but there is no better way to understand your failures than learning from YOUR own mistakes!

    Keep the GREAT posts coming.

  4. Jon says:

    Screwing-up is part of life and success… the more, the better (within reason). Dreams require risk, hard to achieve something of note by playing it safe.

    Jon – Create Unique Memories

  5. Ken says:

    Great post.I push this thought process a lot.In my first career I would beat myself up for making a mistake or making a wrong choice.It led to self destructive behavior.No more.I learn from my mistakes,how else do you learn.What if your judged by others?Who cares They make mistakes too,most won’t admit it.

    BTW Jonathan Love your book.


  6. marc lougee says:

    Great post! Really appreciate the feedback dropping in, as well, specifically Joe’s analogy of whitewater rafting. (I would use the same for rock climbing)- either way, truer words hard to find. Thanks again for an inspirational bit. Hope it free’s up many folks from performance-oriented self-defeat . Cheers, Marc

  7. Jesse says:

    Here Here!

    I was a skier for over 20 years, having taught for 15 of those. There’s one thing I found myself telling kids and parents over and over again, “If you ever stop falling down, you know it’s time to quit.” that’s how I’d answer a whining kid who just ate it in the bumps, and that’s what I’d tell parents who were getting bored with our small local hill…

    I find the same thing holds true in the world of computers and computer education, if you ever know exactly how to fix a problem without first trying 3 things that don’t work, it’s time to retire. Either that or write a book and make your millions!


  8. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Joe – Love the kayaking analogy!

    @ Chis – Yeah, that’s an interesting point about the power of allowing mistakes in school

    @ Ken – we all beat ourselves at at times, but it’s about realizing when you’re doing it, letting go and just learning what you can, then moving on. And, thanks for the props on the book, man!

    @ Jesse – “If you ever stop falling down, you know it’s time to quit.” Well, I definitely don’t have to worry about that when I snowboard! lol!

  9. […] Emily Jasper posted a noteworthy aricle today onHere’s a small snippetA life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. -George Bernard Shaw Simple fact…you’re going to. […]

  10. Halina says:

    How do you know that something is a mistake?
    It’s just a judgment, based on what you believe should be happening, as opposed to what is happening.
    If your life was a novel, would you judge certain scenes there as mistakes? Probably not – it’s just part of the novel, part of the story. It’s really perfect.



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  12. SarahH says:

    Just messed up big time at work. Got a big chance to do a piece of work. I felt happy with it but just had feedback that it’s really terrible. My work usually of the highest standard so I feel gutted. But this was a new area for me and I was taking a chance – convinced them I can do it and i wasn’t up to scratch. Feeling really dreadful, I found this post which has helped hugely. Guess, I could have not tried something new and stayed in my comfort zone. This was certainly falling over to repeat the skiing analogy.

  13. Anlina Sheng says:

    Growing up with the constant pressure (partially self-imposed) to be perfect, I often find myself paralysed with fear of failure when it comes to taking risks and trying something new. I have to regularly remind myself that failure isn’t the end of the world; that screwing up does not mean I will never, ever be successful; that trying and failing is better than doing nothing and that making a mistake will not irreparably damage my credibility and reputation nor make me an object of ridicule among my peers. Perhaps more than failure itself, I fear making a fool of myself.

    I still find it difficult to start anything new, especially if it involves significant risk, but I am getting better, bit by bit. I’ve made progress by starting small, low risk projects ($40 and some personal time to start a blog, if it flops I haven’t lost a huge investment or the income needed to pay my bills, if it succeeds then it bolsters my confidence.) Small successes help build the confidence required to take bigger risks. Little things like putting inspirational quotes on my desktop have also helped remind me that it’s okay to make mistakes and that doing nothing is the worst thing one can do.

  14. Jen says:

    Great post that resonated with where I’m at in my life (left big corporation to spend time on my own pursuits). Battling perfectionism is most often the biggest obstacle, so it’s great to be reminded that it’s ok, in fact great, to make a mess, make mistakes because that creates opportunities where you learn.