Learning from experiences…

October 18, 2021

Every now and then I’ll see a sign or ad somewhere that says, “Now hiring experienced (fill in a job here)”. I thought of that when I recently saw this Oscar Wilde quote – “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Wilde had a great, if somewhat biting, sense of humor. So, I surmise that the employer is looking for someone who has already made lots of mistakes… somewhere else.

Of course, we can learn from successes as well as mistakes; it’s just that we tend to stop and give more thought to our mistakes and hopefully try to learn from them. Not everyone learns from mistakes. Many try to blame their lack of success on someone or something else. Denial of mistakes, or not taking personal responsibility for them, delays or prevents learning from taking place and dooms one to repeated failures. Eventually, most even learn from that, too.

Often a consequence of suffering a setback in life is that it may not set you back into the same place that you were in before it occurred. That is certainly true of life events like divorces or being fired or laid-off. Perhaps through no direct mistake that you made your life has taken a dramatic change. In some cases, the “mistake” was that you didn’t see it coming, because you weren’t paying close enough attention to what was happening around you. I those cases the “mistake” was not taking steps to get prepared for what was coming. We lament later that we should have seen the “handwriting on the wall.”  We do not move forward from the same place that we were in before; but we learn from that.

Like many other things in life, one can make learning from our experiences an integral part of life by establishing a pattern or habit of taking the time each day to reflect on any mistakes that were made or setbacks that occurred. The goal should be to analyze what you did then and to think about a better approach or reaction in the future, should a similar situation arise. I find it helpful to start with a prayer. Praying, being thankful for being given another day and accepting God’s forgiveness for things that one might have done or left undone puts one in the right frame of mind to learn from the event s of the day.

So, whatever your mistakes may be, learn from them and turn your experiences into wisdom. As Confucius said – “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Some of us may take time for reflection before acting and some may choose to imitate the right person to be successful; however, for most of us, our experiences will be the bittersweet road we take to wisdom.

Let us all learn something today.


Let God be your eraser…

February 10, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today, Pastor Freed posted this – “The only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  (John Powell)  Written errors can be eliminated by erasers.  But, how do you get rid of life mistakes?

Freed went on to write about learning from one’s mistakes in life. I have posted here several times about that, too. My latest post was earlier this month about trying something different when you fail.

That little sentence about not having erasers for life’s mistakes caught my attention. In the legal system there is a concept called expungement, which basically means that one’s past criminal record is wiped clean, so that it does not follow a person around and further mess up their life. Michigan is considering a dramatic expansion of the concept of expungement for its legal system.

Almost every job application that I’ve ever seen has a question on it about whether one has any criminal convictions in their past. While it is important for the potential employer to know if they are dealing with a criminal who is likely to again steal or hurt someone, it is also important for the person who may have committed a crime early in their life to be given the chance to prove that they have changed their ways and would now make a good employee. Expungement is not aimed at the incorrigible criminal, but rather at the person who has learned from their mistakes and reformed their life. Potential benefits in this case outweigh the risks involved in  giving the person the chance at a good job and a new life by expunging their criminal record.

Not all mistakes that we make in life are criminal in nature, but many of them follow us around like the “rap sheet” of a criminal. In some cases the mistakes we ‘ve made may be known by many, but for the most part, the guilt that we carry with us for our mistakes is a personal thing. That guilt that we carry in our minds may prevents us from doing the things that we should be doing in life – they hold us back.

Hopefully we did learn something from those mistakes, but how do we expunge them from our lives and move on? We need an eraser.

That’s where God comes in. We are told –

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9


“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” – Acts 3:19

It all comes down to admitting (confessing) to God and ourselves that we did something wrong, that the wrong is in the past and can’t be changed and then accepting the forgiveness of God, so that we can forgive ourselves and move on with life. Expunge your past mistakes. Accept the forgiveness of God and move on.

Let God be the eraser for your life mistakes.

Make a fresh start today.

Don’t let your errors become mistakes…

October 21, 2012

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”- Orlando A. Battista 1917 -1995, Canadian-American Chemist and Author.

I saw that quote in a post on ActiveRain.com, one of the real estate sites that I frequent and have a blog on. I’d probably add that you first have to acknowledge the error, which all too many of us have problems doing in the first place. You can’t move on to the correcting (or not) stage unless you first come to grips that you have made an error. In fact, it’s probably the refusal to admit the error that really turns it into a mistake. The refusal to correct the error just compounds the mistake.

It is human nature to have some trouble admitting to an error. Sometimes that can be as simple (and as obvious) as going in the wrong direction when trying to get somewhere. Of course, if you’re a man, admitting that you are lost and stopping to ask for directions is very hard. Another obvious error is “finishing” the assembly of something only to find that you still have some parts left over. Oops! 

person who misspokeSometimes the error may be very difficult to recognize. That happens a lot when human feelings are involved. Maybe the error was just a remark dropped innocently into a conversation. Maybe that remark was meant as a joke but wasn’t politically correct. It’s easy to miss that slight pause in the conversation or the flush on someone’s face as they react to something that you just said, but many times you’ll sense it.

You may not understand why something you said caused the reaction from the listener. It’s not always easy to figure out in the midst of the conversation how to recover or to correct the error. You may have to ask someone else, later, in order to find out what it is that you might have said that offended or caused the person that you were speaking with to react. Many times you’ll find that you’ve inadvertently hit a nerve that is still raw from some traumatic event in that person’s life, like a death or divorce or perhaps there are family things that you’ve somehow been insensitive to, like a having an autistic or special needs child in the family.

The key is not to let that error become a mistake, by refusing to acknowledge it and not trying to correct it. It may be hard to go back to someone with whom you had a conversation and made some remark that you later found was probably offensive or insensitive from their perspective; but it is important to do so. Otherwise they will forever have this little flag that says “jerk” in the back of their minds that is raised whenever they see you. Don’t let your error turn into an uncorrected mistake. You’ll feel better and so will they.