Self-Awareness 101 Episode 2: The Only Way We Truly Learn Is We Learn From Mistakes... We Learn By Failing
Success in any endeavor depends on your ability to learn from mistakes.
Willard discusses that the only way that we truly learn, is by making mistakes and failing. Over time, we have become conditioned to avoid exploring our true potential because we fear failing and making mistakes. Yet, the only way that we can experience life, step outside our comfort zone, make mistakes, learn, then continue on applying the lessons and growing.
Have you ever avoided even attempting to do something you really wanted to do... something you were passionate about... just because you were concerned you would make a mistake? You thought you would fail? Or maybe you thought you would just look silly? Did you even wonder what you could learn from mistakes you made?
Our culture has conditioned us to have this idea of perfection in everything we do. We believe that we must be perfect, whether it’s the perfect look, the perfect hair, the perfect speech, the perfect presentation. And we end up using the excuse that we aren't perfect to prevent us from even trying. We're so afraid of failing, that we just make excuses of how we don't have the skill, the time, the money and then accept our "lot in life".
Think about it. How many people do you know that stay in relationships, in jobs, in situations that are not healthy for them, because they fear making a bigger mistake?
The reality is that the only way we ever truly learn something is to learn from mistakes. No one does something "perfectly" the first time they try. Not even the most gifted person in the world. Failing, making mistakes, and taking the opportunity to learn from mistakes, gives us the opportunity to uncover areas we can work on improving that we never knew existed before we failed.
I'll give you an example for me personally. In 1998, I left a very well paid position as a DJ in NYC to start a new career as a professional speaker and a coach. I had no experience in business. I didn't know how to market; I didn't know how to find clients. I didn't know how to do the finances for a business. It was totally new opportunity, something I had never done before, but I was so excited about it that I went out and just "did it". I jumped in with both feet... and I failed miserably. Within 2 years, I was considering leaving the industry. I went in debt, I lost my apartment, I sold pretty much everything I owned just to survive. This happened because of making bad decisions in regards to partnerships, mistakes in how I marketed myself or more to the point mistakes in the lack of marketing and just bad decisions financially over all that led my early attempts at business to failure. It completely put me in a bad place financially for a very long time. And even more it really did damage to my confidence level. But it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life as I look back, because the only way that we truly learn, is to learn from mistakes.
You can read every book in the world that you want about how to build a business or about how to sky dive or about how to do anything that you want to do, but its not until you actually step into the experience, until you actually apply yourself, until you actually make mistakes then learn from mistakes that you made that your behavior changes and you implement what you have learned. You can't learn how to course correct, how to adjust, and how to succeed at whatever it is you are choosing to do, until you make mistakes first.
I'll give you an example, walking. Pretty much everybody that you know, unless limited by some disability, walks. And I'm willing to bet that pretty much everybody that you know did not succeed the first time they tried to walk. Most people were barely able to get off their butt the first time before they fell down. And then they had to adjust, internally they had to think, "What was wrong? Why did I fall? What happened with my balance? What do I need to change? What can I learn from mistakes that I just made?" They do this unconsciously... and then they make the adjustments and get up a little farther before they fall again. And they repeat the internal process, failing, evaluating, and adjusting. And then finally after three or four tries (many more for most of us), they finally got to point where they were able to stand... for 2 seconds... and then they fall.
Can you even begin to count how many times a baby falls before it actually takes its first step? There is no fear of failing. It's all about how they learn from mistakes they made, and then making adjustments based on what they learned that allows them to actually achieve the outcome.
Over time, we've become conditioned to fear failing. Whether it’s from school, whether it's from well meaning adults, or from friends who just enjoyed laughing at us, we get scared to even try something, because we don't want to look silly. We don't want to make a mistake because we've been taught that making a mistake makes us "less than".
Or again, because our culture conditions us to believe that we must be perfect. We see so much on TV, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect body style, the perfect words being spoken at the perfect moment... we think that is the way we have to be... perfect, the first time, and no mistakes. The viewer doesn't see how many times we had to shoot this little 4 minute episode to get it right. And it's still not "perfect".
What if we were conditioned in a new way? Instead of getting the red mark on our paper, whenever we did it wrong. Or what if instead of when we got the laughter, the embarrassments, what if we decided to learn from mistake and were instead conditioned for success? Knowing that mistakes are going to happen, that failures are going to happen, and rather than looking at the downside, we ask ourselves, "What did I learn? What did I do right? What can I do better next time?"
That experience of failing in business put me in really bad shape financially, mentally and emotionally. AND it also opened up the opportunity for me to study with some of the great leaders in business. It forced me to learn how to market myself more effectively, how to manage my finances better as well as made me grow overall as a person. I wouldn't be who I am; I wouldn't do things the way that I do now, if I wouldn't have made those mistakes. I did learn from mistakes to achieve this.
So I invite you to think back in your past. What's something that you are very accomplished at now, that the first time that you tried, you failed miserably? Give yourself the gift of coming up with a couple of ideas, a couple of experiences because this will give you unconscious references for the future.
The next thing I want you to think about is, what's something you've been avoiding doing, because you've feared making a mistake or failing, or just that you will look silly? Make a list of two or three of those big and small things you may have been avoiding.
And finally, what is ONE STEP that you can take, right now, towards achieving one of these things you've been putting off? I can pretty much guarantee you that you are going to make mistakes. And when you do, pick up that earlier list I asked you to make, of the things you are accomplished at now, that you failed at when you first began, and use that as a resource to push you past the fear. It's simply about remembering how we succeeded in the past. Fail, learn from mistakes that led to failing, make the adjustments from what we learned and move forward... that's truly the only way we ever achieve the outcome we are ultimately shooting for.
So again, I wish you the very best, make sure to write in your journal, or leave some notes here. And feel free to share these ideas with other people.
We look forward to seeing you again.
Choose the next Episode you would like to watch from the list below:
Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus
Introduction To Self-Awareness 101: To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1: The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 2: How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3: To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4: The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5: Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6: Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7: Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8: Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9: Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10: Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12: Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13: The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14: Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15: Establishing Personal Boundaries, It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16: Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17: Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18: Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19: Personal Development Tests
SA 101 Episode 20: A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21: The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22: Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23: Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25: Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26: Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27: Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28: How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
SA 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31: Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32: Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33: Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34: How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35: Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37: What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38: How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39: Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40: How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41: Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42: How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43: How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44: Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45: Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46: Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47: Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48: Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49: Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50: Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51: Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52: The Final Episode