Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with a White House intern were a horrible mistake; Richard Nixon’s authorization for burglars to break into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel was a horrible mistake.
We learn about these epic fails and sometimes say to ourselves, “How could they be so stupid?”
A little closer to home—a friend flunks out of school because he partied too much; another friend lost her job because of playing games and browsing Facebook at work.
We learn of these horrible mess-ups and vow not to make them ourselves.
However, there are some big blunders we should make ourselves. Why? Because we learn from them and develop a resiliency as we figure out how we are going to fix them and bounce back.
Here are 15 mistakes everyone needs to make on their own because they will gain mountains of knowledge.
1. Bombing publicly
Whether it is for a speech, some sort of presentation or an athletic event (scoring a goal for the opposite team), public mistakes can be humiliating. We feel as if we want to retreat from everyone who has witnessed the mistake. We have to develop ways to deal with the humiliation, however, because, short of moving away, we are not going to change our environments. We can choose from several strategies, including humor, and the experience will prepare us for similar mistakes bound to come later.
2. Getting into a bad relationship
We can come out of these with our egos destroyed, in bad financial straits and even heartbroken. It takes time to heal, of course; but in that healing process, we learn a great deal about ourselves and figure out how to move on to new relationships that will be successful.
3. Taking a bad job
Sometimes we are stuck with this big mistake for a while because it may take some time to find a better one. But we learn what to look for, and we are much smarter as we conduct our search.
4. Hitting rock bottom
Many highly successful people have hit rock bottom. So, if this happens to you, you have good company. In most instances, we are able to re-evaluate our values and emerge much stronger.
5. Feeling entitled and having that entitlement taken away
This often happens to kids who are at the top of their game in high school and who feel that everyone should accommodate them. They go off to college, and all of that entitlement disappears. It’s a shock. But getting through that successfully makes a person aware of the value of others, more tolerant and less judgemental.
6. Making a mistake that ends in job termination
This can be a blow to one’s confidence, but there are big lessons to be learned that will not be repeated gain.
7. Being offensive to others
Everyone has a right to an opinion. However, when that opinion is verbalized in such a way that it offends others, there can be horrific backlash and loss of respect in the eyes of many. These mistakes are difficult to fix because an “I’m sorry” will not be enough. From this experience we learn how to speak with tact and sensitivity.
8. Burning bridges
We may leave a job under bad circumstances, then engage in public “boss bashing.” These things can come back to haunt. Likewise, cutting off a personal or professional relationship under negative circumstances may be regretted years later. The best lesson we learn from this is to watch what we say and do and be mindful of future consequences.
9. Taking a risk and failing
Successful people all say that a failure is really only a failure if we learn nothing in the process. We need to fail so we know what not to do next time.
10. Blaming others for our failures
This attitude dooms a person to more failure because nothing changes if it’s “all someone else’s fault.” At some point when all the “someones” have abandoned this individual, the awakening comes, an invaluable awakening that teaches you self-reliance.
11. Telling a big lie and getting caught
Oh, the embarrassment of it all. And the consequences can be quite severe. Experiencing this humiliation is usually punishment enough and a good deterrent from a repeat performance.
12. Not managing time
Lack of time management has severe consequences on the job and in life. When the chaos becomes too much, most people will make the effort to learn how to manage their time and thus their lives.
13. Letting others rescue you
The problem with this behavior is that the rescued person is then tied to the rescuer and often trapped into being a bit controlled by that person. The other problem with being rescued is that one never develops the ability to work through problems and issues on his/her own. When you make this mistake, you learn the real value of standing on your own two feet.
14. Quitting a job with no plan
In a fit of anger, a person walks out. Now, faced with no job, bills to pay and other responsibilities, the quitter will have to hit the ground running and may end up in a new job that is worse than the last. But getting through such an extremely crummy consequence of being rash, teaches us to be wiser the next time around.
15. Bombing an interview
This is a great learning experience and certainly fosters humility. Being humble is a good trait to develop, even if it is developed under really bad conditions.
When we make some whopper blunders, we experience a great deal of inner negativity, turmoil, embarrassment, guilt and worse. But every blunder teaches us important lessons if we let them. Look at your goofs as your greatest teachers. You will then emerge from them strong, resilient and able to face the next mistake with much better perspective.