#1137 A New Take on Mis-takes

Using Them as Fuel for Our Antifragile Fires

In our last +1, we spent some time with an Academy Award-nominated documentarian who reminded us that we need to be willing to fail.

Actually, he reminded us that those hundreds of unused hours of filming weren’t failures. “Each frame was an important part of the overall process, even those that didn’t ultimately get used.’

When I thought of that film-making wisdom, I thought of Michael Beckwith’s wisdom on mis-takes.

In Spiritual Liberation he tells us: “A conscious realization of our innate oneness with the Ineffable does not mean that we will never make a mistake again. Even enlightened beings burn their bagels once in a while. It’s important to maintain a sense of humor because this is how you will stop being afraid of making a mistake. You’ll make some, but so what? That’s why they’re called mis-takes. Humor relaxes the uptight ego. You get a new cue from your inner Self and simply say, ‘I missed my cue, so let’s do a second take.’ Your willingness to take the risk of making a mistake is actually an expression of courage and a willingness to grow from them. Mistakes are about getting the blessing in the lesson and the lesson in the blessing.


When I thought of that wisdom, I thought of another passage from Robert Biswas-Diener’s The Courage Quotient.

Let’s open our books to page 133 where Robert talks about some research done by another one of our favorite scholars: Ellen Langer.

Get this…

Robert tells us: “Langer argues that people avoid taking courageous action because they are afraid of making mistakes, which can be socially embarrassing and personally threatening. Worrying about these mistakes, according to Langer, prevents us from taking risks and from being creative. In short, the potential sting of mistakes can prevent us from living the lives we want.

He continues: “Langer investigated the fear of mistakes using a classic fear-inducing paradigm: public speaking. Many if not most people feel some anxiety at the idea of standing in front of a group and giving a presentation. Langer placed her research participants into one of three separate study conditions. The first was a ‘mistakes are bad’ condition, in which participants were warned not to make mistakes during their presentations. The second was a forgiveness condition, in which they were instructed to purposefully make a mistake and reassured that such mistakes were OK. The final condition was a ‘novelty’ condition, in which the participants were instructed to purposefully make a mistake and then incorporate such mistakes into the presentation itself.

Guess what?

After completing their public presentations the participants in the novelty condition reported being more comfortable while on stage and gave their own performances a better rating than members of the other two conditions. Not only that, but the audience judged the presenters in the novelty condition as being more intelligent and effective.”

Isn’t that a fascinating study?!

Let’s actually imagine that.

You’re asked to do something stressful.

Which of those three conditions are you assigning yourself to?! (Note: We’re ALWAYS consciously or unconsciously assigning ourselves to a condition…)

Are you telling yourself not to make a mistake?

Don’t make a mistake! Don’t make a mistake! Don’t make a mistake!!


Are you allowing yourself to make a mistake and then forgiving yourself?

It’s OK that I made I mistake.


Are you seeing how you can use all your mistakes as part of whatever your’e up to?

Aha! Awesome mis-take. Let’s throw that fuel in the antifragile fire!

That’s Today’s +1.

As Robert tells us: “The take-home message here for you, and for your courage quotient, is to not treat mistakes as though they are barely acceptable but to embrace them as if they were your friends and also gateways to creativity, confidence, and spontaneity.


They do a courage quotient good.

Let’s go out and have fun making some Today.

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