October 26 – Frustrating, but valuable stumbles

October 26. “A stumble may prevent a fall.” (Thomas Fuller)

“I swear! Nothing is ever easy!” I have thought, and yelled, this statement more than a few times in my life. Recently it has been while struggling through home improvement projects, and while navigating complicated waters at work. Increasingly in life I find it to be true, that nothing is easy.

Everything worth doing has its share of difficulty. And, if I am doing something unfamiliar, or particularly complicated, the difficulty only increases. The other thing that increases when I am doing something that is both important and difficult, is the set of consequences if there is a major failure.

In the case of my home improvement projects there is the chance of increasing my costs. At work the results can be delays in my project. As it turns out a “fall” can be quite costly.

In this quote, Fuller gives the idea that sometimes a stumble can be beneficial. Having a smaller issue, or a smaller mistake along the way can sometimes prevent something larger from happening. I can see this played out in many circumstances.

When I was cutting the new baseboard moldings for my bedroom I chose the longest wall for my first piece. My idea was that if I made a mistake, I could use the miss cut piece on another, shorter wall. I am not an expert in how to miter corners, so the chances were good that there was going to be a mistake or two. As sure as anything, my first piece came up short. I had measured multiple times, and cut accurately to my measurement, but I didn’t take into account the notion that the wall wasn’t perfectly straight and had a bit of a bow to it. That changed the length of the board by about 1/8” which altered the fit of the corner. This stumble happened early in the project, and it taught me a lot about how to cut the boards. Within a few minutes I had a new piece cut and ready, with my newfound understanding.

Yes, while making that stumble I did yell out “I swear! Nothing is ever easy!” I was frustrated to be sure, but later I was grateful that the mistake happened early and taught me how to do better.

Indeed, sometimes making a small mistake, a stumble, can teach me a valuable lesson that helps me to do better in the future.

Mistakes, errors and missteps happen. They are just a part of doing anything worthwhile. How well I learn from them, and how well I adapt, ultimately tell the tale of how well I perform.

Today my reflection is on stumbles, and how they are both frustrating and valuable to my ongoing development.

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