November 5 – A clutter of mistakes? Or a set of assets from my experiences?

November 5. “Consider every mistake you do make as an asset.” (Paul J. Meyer)

Mistakes as an asset? That would seem to be a novel idea. But, when you really think about it, the idea makes a lot of sense.

In the US there is a sort of a folksy premium that is put on people who learned through the “school of hard knocks”. The idea behind that turn of phrase is that you can learn in many ways, but if you learn by making mistakes, and getting knocked around, then there is something to be said. A person who has learned in the school of hard knocks will sometimes have the terms “street smart” or “moxie” attached to them. They have achieved, but not without gaining a few scars along the way. In today’s quote, Meyer is suggesting something similar, if not quite so gritty.

It is often said, and I have even written, that the best way to learn is by doing. And, in order to gain a new skill, one has to be willing to be terrible at something for a while. This is true in any endeavor, and for almost anyone. There are few people (if any) who are true naturals and excel at something the first time they try it. Take your pick of any successful person, in any field, and I will tell you that at some time in their life they were terrible at what they did. By making mistakes, and learning from them, they became better, until they were the shining stars we see today.

Because they learned from their mistakes, the mistakes became what Meyer calls assets. The failures became the essential building blocks on which future successes were erected.

But, there is a difference between assets and clutter. If I do not learn from my mistakes, if I do not find the lesson in each, then they will accumulate like clutter around my house. Eventually, if I fail to learn from them, my mistakes turn me into a hoarder.

If you have ever watched a show like American Pickers, or Storage Wars, you know that there is a difference between clutter and assets. The men and women on those shows have built a career out of sorting through other people’s clutter to find the “rusty gold”. If I want to turn the clutter of my mistakes into the assets of my future, then I need to be reflective on them. I need to learn from them and add them to my library of experiences.

Today my reflection is on the difference between a clutter of failures, and on a well sorted set of assets from my experiences.

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