15 Things You Will Learn From Making Mistakes

We should never be made to feel bad about mistakes, we should embrace them and learn from them because it means we’re trying new things. We are not robots programmed to perform the same task a million times and get it right every single time. How boring would that be!

Well, I’ll tell you how interesting mistake making really gets. I am like the queen of making mistakes. Monday mornings I usually go into work and talk about how badly I failed at something over the weekend. Losing my keys on a walk in the woods, losing my mind other times. However, nothing really beats the time I got lost at sea on a paddleboard….

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It was July 4th weekend and my boyfriend (Kurt) and I went to Maine for a little weekend getaway. On our second day there we (okay I) thought it would be fun to rent paddleboards. I’ve been paddleboarding once in California and it was so much fun. Kurt had never been so I thought it would be something new and interesting for him to try.

It was a super windy day in Portland, Maine and when we rented our boards the people at the booth told us it would be hard to stand, but didn’t give us any more information other than that. They never said how far out to go, or that the tides were especially strong.

We got on our boards, spotted an Island across the bay, and decided to paddle out to it. Getting to the island was a breeze…and then we tried to paddle back. The tide was so strong we paddled in the same spot for an hour barely making any headway.

After about half an hour I was starting to get a little panicky and frustrated. We paddled out so far we couldn’t even see the dock we came from. We weren’t far from the land itself. The island we came from was still very close behind but even if we went back to it we would have no way of getting the boards back to the rental booth.

After 2 hours went by we both started to realize we wouldn’t be able to paddle back. Luckily I had my phone. Kurt called the rental place, but they couldn’t offer any advice to help us. They only frustrated the situation further. I turned around to look at Kurt and as he was swearing and throwing his hands up in the air. That was when I saw the best thing I’d seen all day.

The coast guard was approaching, and I yelled out, “Kurt look we’re saved!” Some lady driving by on the freeway called them, saying it looked like there were 2 people stuck in the water who needed some help. We got back to shore safely and vowed to never paddle board again.

The lesson learned here for me was; don’t go far from the shoreline when paddle boarding, it’s always a good idea to have your phone in a wet box (even if it didn’t really help us this time, it could have), and to overall just be more careful.

Learning from your mistakes and understanding why they are important to personal growth is the spice of life, especially if your a 20 something (like me) that has a lot to learn.


“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”

—Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM

1. Mistakes teach us about trial and error

When we make an error, we subconsciously pay more attention than when we do something the right way. The reason being, we don’t like the way it feels to be wrong, so we make a mental note of our mistake. We harbor more knowledge about something when we discover we are wrong about what we thought to be true. A new study from John Hopkins University theorizes that our brains save errors. We eventually use those errors and even apply them to different situations when they arise.

2. Mistakes make us uncomfortable, we should learn how to live with discomfort. 

There is a power in learning to live with discomfort. Do you know what makes people the most uncomfortable? Being unsure. What happens when we aren’t sure of ourselves? Much of the time we end up being wrong. We experience discomfort in many avenues and in different ways, but it all stems from one place–Fear. We are afraid to be wrong or look stupid or step outside the box so we never try. Irina Popescu writes a great article explaining how her students benefit from fear and discomfort in the classroom.

3. Mistakes can teach us not to fear failure

Speaking of fear, mistakes will teach us not to be so afraid of failure. We live in a world where we are taught that failure is a bad thing, mistakes mean you don’t know as much as you think you do. The lessons you learn from failing might be some of the most important lessons you learn in your life. Vinton G. Cerf understands failure is life’s greatest teacher, and that we should take advantage of it.

4. Mistakes teach us how to take responsibility

Because our culture has made us feel like failure is not an option, as a result, people would rather put the blame on someone else rather than own up to their mistake. I hear you, I have a hard time admitting when I am in the wrong and taking responsibility. Taking blame may hurt our ego at first, but in the long run, it actually makes people respect you more. They see you as being honest and having integrity.

5. Mistakes help us to fully engage

It is important to understand that when we accept and own up to our errors that those faults do not define us. They do not tell us who we are, so don’t dwell on them. If you can learn to accept you made a mistake, appreciate the learning experience, and move on then you will be happier. You will find that your life feels more fulfilled and you are more engaged in everything you do because you aren’t afraid to fail.

6. Mistakes teach us to be leaders

As I mentioned before, when we own up to a wrongdoing other people see us as more respectable, even though we did the wrong thing! Honesty and integrity outweigh mistakes. These qualities are what make good leaders. It shows people that they can look up to you because you will be transparent with them. It shows them that you aren’t the type of person that other people for your own faults. Then in kind hopefully they will do the same.

7. Mistakes force us to be better

The best thing about failing at something and getting it wrong is that it creates the opportunity for one to get better. Our natural reaction is to try it differently the next time around. It goes back to the same idea of trial and error, as a result of this process we improve.


Other articles you might like: Organizing for Success


8. Mistakes provide you with experience that others don’t have

We should definitely take note of other peoples missteps. If someone does something and fails miserably it might be worth noting why they failed and try to learn from their mistakes. However, we never get the full picture of why someone else’s success didn’t pan out. That’s why it is better to make mistakes for yourself and analyze what you could have done better. One practice I have gotten myself into is writing out every week something that I could have done better. Then thinking about a new way to approach it next time.

9. Mistakes teach you that you are not right all the time and don’t have to be

Nothing is more humbling than being told that you are wrong. It sucks and it hurts because no one likes being wrong. I often find that I have an overwhelming need to be right. Often, I have to mentally curb that need. It is an ugly thing to argue a point that is usually moot anyways. If you have to debate with someone keep an open mind and don’t go into the conversation with the mindset of needing to have the other person agree with you. No one wins when we act like that. This article from the daily positive highlights expands on learning how not to get defensive.

10. Mistakes = Progress

If you find that you are making mistakes all the time, good, that gives you plenty of learning opportunities. If you learn from something it means your making progress. The goal is to keep moving the bar forward. People get stuck when they fall into routines and habits. They aren’t making mistakes because they aren’t trying anything new.

11. If you don’t own up to your mistakes you’ll always feel the false sense of being right

No one is right all of the time no matter what they tell you, but there are some people who will just not admit to being wrong. The issue is, that you are in the wrong arguing with people for the sake of being right all the time. Not only that but also if you insist you are right you are closing the door to any other possibilities. No one is always right.


Other articles you might like: Work Hard and Trust Your Path


12. The way to success is through mistakes and failure

The harder you have to fight and push to get to where you want to be, the sweeter the victory. The people in history that have to preserve succeed big are also the people that failed big, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, you can find a whole list of them! What separates the winners from the losers is the desire to learn and improve from failure. Winners always keep moving forward even after they’ve failed many times.

13. You will gain more respect admitting to a mistake rather than denying one was made

As I mentioned briefly before mistakes earn us the respect of others when we own up to them. When we hide our faults from other people because we are afraid of what they will think, it doesn’t feel good. We know the truth deep down and other people won’t trust you. “acknowledging your mistakes, apologizing for them, and then earnestly working to make things right almost always has the opposite effect maybe they will be mad at first, but in the long run you will earn their respect.

14. Mistakes show us that there is always room for improvement 

When I was a waitress, one of my tables asked me to answer a riddle, “what is the biggest room in the world”. I was totally stumped. The answer was “room for improvement”. Business and people get caught up in this mode of thinking, “That’s the way we’ve always done it” People that aren’t willing to change because they are afraid of failing are people who arn’t willing to learn and improve.

15. Mistakes provide an opportunity for change

I just finished reading “Who Stole my Cheese” which is all about change and not fearing change. Right now the book seemed very relevant to me. It talks about knowing when to make a change and when to go with the flow and follow whatever it is that’s changing. When you are making progress your mistakes are an open door for change. Asking yourself questions like “What can I do differently? What can I do better? How do I avoid this happening to me again?”


The moral of the story is, make mistakes, and when you do learn from them. Don’t feel bad or allow others to make you feel bad about being wrong. We’re all wrong once in a while, but if you can own up to it, your already doing better than those who will never admit that they aren’t perfect.


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