Yesterday I called my eleven-year old niece, Aisalynn, to wish her a happy birthday. My favorite pre-teen responded by telling me she really needed the eraser. Go figure. I sent a gift certificate to her favorite store, a book (my continuous agenda is encouraging reading) along with some silly, sparkly fake nails and a huge eraser shaped like a birthday cake. Who would have guessed the eraser was the biggest hit?
Later that day it occurred to me an eraser is a “must have” tool for a 5th grader. Those soft pink beveled erasers came in handy when you messed up on a math problem, misspelled a word or had to remove the boy’s name you had a crush on before your dad noticed it artfully displayed across your spelling notebook. I smiled wondering was an Aidan, a Caleb or a Connor Aisalynn’s crush of the week?
Whether it’s a blunder on a math test or bombing a job interview, mistakes happen. When you cannot erase away the actual evidence of a misstep, you can own it and profit from the experience.
In my book, mistakes are as natural as breathing. The late, great coach John Wooden put it this way: “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything. A doer makes mistakes.”
Certainly mistakes range in severity. Some errors are mere speed bumps encountered on the road to success.
Others, like business bankruptcy, create noticeable failure but whatever the blunder, recovery is possible. Need proof? Walt Disney declared bankruptcy in 1923 when he couldn’t cover his studio’s overhead. Five years later he created a character named Mickey Mouse, and you know the rest of the story.
Making a “do over” successful requires passion. Need an example? Check out your condiment shelf. When H.J. Heinz was 25, he founded a company that made horseradish. The firm tanked in 1875. Not one to quit, Henry John reorganized and launched a new ketchup producing venture. Fun fact: Heinz now sells 640 million bottles of its iconic Ketchup every year.
You can find the magic in making mistakes by considering the flip side. Analyze that failure and list the lessons learned. Change the nomenclature and think of a blunder as Henry J. Kaiser describes it, “an opportunity in work clothes.”
Thought For the Week:
If someone buys me an eraser for my birthday, I think I’ll leave it on my desk as a reminder that failure
is a gift called experience.