Now that I have your attention, I wish to address an issue that puzzles me. Why do certain potentially mis-perceived themes always seem to get a bad wrap? Whether its current dietary issues like gluten or carbs, or other common mental health issues like stress, the overall message that the general public receives is that its all bad and should be avoided at all costs.
The same attitude is generally applied to the concept of making mistakes. Mistakes are bad. Mistakes are wrong. Mistakes are associated with failure. Making them potentially lowers ones self esteem. The fear of making mistakes is linked with our egos. The fear of not being good enough, not understanding enough and not being worthy of acceptance can routinely lead to avoidance. Making mistakes can potentially be embarrassing so it becomes easier to avoid making the effort. We are conditioned to believe this as children from the time we take our first spelling test.
Part of the negative association with respect to mistakes I believe comes from the general inaccuracy of linking them with human behavior. Making bad moral choices or strategical errors in judgement can often be confused with the mistakes that are made in the process of learning. Making moral choices in favor of corruption is a measure of personal integrity, responsibility and character. Decision making for a calculated course of action requires higher brain deliberation and judgement. If mistakes occur from these actions, one hopes to gain life experience and wisdom from lessens learned.
In order to learn, build competence and confidence at a skill, whether it be a trade, scholastic endeavor, peak performance in sport, music, art or literature, countless mistakes have to be made.Mistakes signify the process of learning is taking place. In order for an action to be coordinated with the brain, neural pathways must form. These neural circuits become faster and eventually hardwired when signals are sent from the brain to their target over and over again. Until they are established, its the mistakes that give the brain feedback to fine tune and make necessary modifications to the subsequent output signals.Eventually the messages are reproducible and are progressively sent with more consistency. The neural pathways become facilitated and messages are passed with greater speed and fluidity. Memory of the learned pathways are filed and stored in the hippo campus part of the brain. These pathways coordinate signals from the brain to the rest of the body so that precision performance can be”font-style:bold; text-decoration:underline;font-size: 18px;”> Whether its juggling, sinking a putt, throwing a 3 point basketball shot, playing a violin solo or riding a bicycle with your eyes closed, mastering these skills can only be the result of hours and hours of training and repetition while overcoming hundreds of mistakes along the way.

So the need to shift ones MINDSET attitude about mistakes is essential. But HOW? How can we shift our thinking to accept that committing these mistakes is good. How can we encourage our children to keep trying and teach them to embrace their mistakes and not be easily fearful or overly frustrated by them.
Here are 5 suggested strategies.
1. Know what to expect. Mistakes are an anticipated, normal part of the neurological conditioning process. Its OK to suck at it , especially in the beginning. Every mistake is part of the process of getting better. Failing is just a process of success training.
2.This neurological process is neutral. Its not personal. It may occur at different rates for each individual but the process remains the same. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Remember a toddler learning how to walk. He falls countless times with no regard for his pride. There is no ego. There is no embarrassment. Just an innate drive to move in a faster in a more efficient manner
3.Create a safe STRUCTURAL environmental FRAMEWORK to make mistakes in. When your child is going to learn to ride a bike, make sure he has a vacant lot and appropriate protective gear on. Now allow him the chance to fall as many times as he has to without embarrassment or injury until his balance is achieved.
4. Mentally practice regarding mistakes like a scientist. Einstein conducted thousands of experiments that didn’t produce a successful outcome when he invented the light bulb. When interviewed about his failures, he commented by stating that none of them were failures. He was just ruling out what didn’t work.
5. Have faith in the neurological process. The only thing between now and mastered competency is time, repetition and mistakes. Success is a predictable outcome once the planned design and structure of the practice is in place. I have often recalled my personal experience in my post graduate first year anatomy class. The professor was a former army drill instructor with a very regimented, disciplined manner of teaching. His relentless, methodical approach to planned ,practice and repetition resulted in a consistent class average of 99%. Success and mastery was an inevitable outcome to every student who made countless mistakes along the way.

When it comes to mistakes, the only mistake you don’t want to make is to avoid them. Learn from every mistake and embrace them. It is a vital, necessary part of the process. A good MINDSET shift in thought to consider is


Can you think of a task, hobby or important project that you have been avoiding because of fear of failure or frustration? Please share