Mistakes and struggles as inspiration

February 10 – “It’s OK to mess up. You should give yourself a break.” (Billy Joel)

There are some people who are blessed with a divine lack of self-doubt. The rest of us, in the majority, have to live with the fact that we know we aren’t perfect. But today, Billy Joel provides us with this important reminder. Messing up is OK.

I would take it a step further and say that not only is messing up OK, it is inevitable, and necessary. It is inevitable because no one, no matter how inflated their ego may be, is perfect. Every one of us makes mistakes. And, it is inevitable because without messing up, no real growth can ever happen.

It is true in life that in order to ever be good at anything, we must first be terrible at it. With extremely rare exceptions, no one is good at almost anything the first time around (or the second, or the tenth). But unless we take the chance to look a bit foolish, to let ourselves be outside our comfort zone, we will never experience growth.

I watch far too many of my friends lose sight of this important truth as they go about their lives. They hold themselves up to impossible standards, and get downright hard on themselves when they stumble. I know what that looks like, and I know how it feels, because I have victimized myself similarly all too often. With great hubris we think that we should go through life error free, when in our rational moments we know that isn’t true.

I had a brief conversation with a woman whose story is quite inspirational. This woman has transformed her life by taking hold of her health and losing well over 100 pounds. She presently finds herself at a plateau of weight, and she is fighting binging urges. Over the last few months her weight has fluctuated as she gains and loses the same 5 to 7 pounds. When I first came across her, she was using he story to help inspire and motivate others. As she has struggled, she’s pulled back from that coaching, thinking herself not worthy to dole out advice. I say hogwash.

In my opinion it is while we struggle, and while we talk about how we deal with that struggle, that we can truly inspire others. Nothing in life worth having comes easily, and when driving toward that goal is an uphill climb, it allows others to see us as human, and to identify with our struggle as they muddle through theirs.

When we mess up, and when we allow others to see us mess up, we give them permission to make mistakes as well. Armed with that permission, people can take more risks, and expand their horizons.

Today my reflection is on how I can be more honest with myself about my flaws and mistakes, and how that honesty can be a help to others.

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1 Response to Mistakes and struggles as inspiration

  1. Marie Keates says:

    The mistakes we make teach us the greatest lessons we need to learn. The more mistakes we make the more we need to learn.


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