Many of US prefers to be perfect but there isn’t any human that is perfect. In our day to day living we do not always get it right. We make mistakes. What do we do when we make mistakes? What do you do? Analyse your mistakes until you are unable to move forward? Project your mistakes on others and blame them for your errors? Ignore the mistakes and do not even see them as mistakes? Study them and learn from them in order to move forward? Use them as building blocks and then create new and positive things from the mistakes? Blame yourself and turn yourself into a victim? Freeze as a result of the mistake and refuse to move forward again and be caught in a time warp?


Millstone or Foundation Stone?

Mistakes are part of life. Life without mistakes or errors is not possible and unimaginable since nature itself in creation do have mistakes. This explanation however, does not explain mistakes or give definition of the concept. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines mistake as:a misconception about the meaning of something; a thing incorrectly done or thought; an error of judgment. Error, the condition of being mistaken or incorrectly done. This definition explains the fact that mistakes can be an action, a question of meaning and that of judgment.


This means that in discussing errors or mistakes one can conceive it as an action that can be seen or sensed. It could also be a process that one cannot perceive but which one can see its effects. No matter what it is, mistakes exist in human activities, relationships and existence. The question however, is why do we have mistakes as part of human make-up and existence? Stretching this question further, one may then ask if God as human beings tend to imagine is omnipresent, omniscient and all powerful, why do we have mistakes in nature, creation or in human make-up? This posting does not pretend to have answers to this rhetorical questions. However, it will try to explore this concept’s conundrum. The first step in trying to understand the idea of mistake and its inherent characteristics is trying to ask the question: why do we have mistakes and what is the nature of mistakes? Mistakes occur when things do not go right. When actions or issues or products being made do not turn out right. They also happen when decisions or ideas pursued do not turn out right the way planned or turn out to be errors. This shows that mistakes sometimes reflect the absence of plans or plans that go awry. A misstep in decision making or a wrong turn out of actions meant to be right lead to mistakes. This nature of mistake creates situations where there are ripples and effects following each mistake committed by an individual, an organisation, company, community or a nation. Since human beings run all organisations, there is no possibility of having a flawless error free organisation or action in this world. The question here is how do we cope with mistakes in ourselves, in others, in organisations and in our societies?


In answering this question above, there is the need to make a distinction between what we perceive as mistakes and what occurs naturally as a means of progressing or a means of preparing us for better outcomes. Many examples point to this insight. The development of penicillin, the many mistakes of Thomas Edison and the miscalculations of General Giant during the American civil war point to the mistakes and progressive nature. Mistakes when they occur do sometimes serve as brakes for individuals, organizations or societies to reflect on a particular action or path they are taking. In some instances, what looked like mistakes are sometimes nature’s feints in directing us aright. This leads to creative use of mistakes in human life.


The pushing out of Steve Jobs from Apple company was thought to be a mistake. This action however, led to his coming back to create the must innovative, creative and most profitable company in the world. The mistake had turned out to be a positive action for Steve Jobs and even the Apple company itself. It is clear therefore that without mistakes progress may be slow, in existent or cumbersome. The main thing is not just making mistakes but in harnessing the positive and ennobling qualities of mistakes so as to go forward. Mistakes by their nature become debilitating when they are committed, they become a millstone round the neck of the person who made the mistake rather than becoming a foundation stone on which the individual can build a success edifice. When errors or mistakes are committed, one needs to move away from dwelling on such mistakes and analysing them ‘ad infinitum’. There is the need to move on and work towards defining a new path rather than allowing the mistake or mistakes define oneself.

Remedial Steps

  • Take your mistake as what it is, a mistake not intentionally committed and so not definitive of your life and existence
  • List the lessons you are expected to learn from your previous mistakes and the present one
  • Ask yourself, if you have learnt those lessons from the errors and mistakes you committed. If you have learnt these lessons, how well have they deepen and elevate you? If you have not learnt these lessons, why have you not learnt them?
  • Write out steps you need to take in order to get yourself out of the quagmire that the mistakes you committed had put you in.
  • Mistakes can be foundation stones to building better edifices or success. This can only be done if the individual do not turn his/her mistakes into an albatross or millstone round his/her neck. List the steps you need to take in order to turn your mistakes and mistakes from a millstone into a foundation stone or a building block.

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