My daughter and I tend to have this in common: she does not like to make mistakes.
I can recall countless times sitting down at the table with her, doing math.
“Come on, what do you think is the answer?”
A pained expression on her face. “I don’t know.”
“Okay, I know you don’t know. Just try.”
“I don’t know.”
She sits there frozen in time, unwilling to answer, unwilling to do something because her best guess could be the wrong answer.
And I realize I tend to be a lot like her. I realize she gets this aversion to making mistakes from me.
Earlier this year, we moved to an apartment to be able to sell our house. Thinking that an empty house is easier to be shown and seems more inviting to buyers, we downsized for a few months into an apartment half the size.
It was a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t earth shattering and it definitely wasn’t something we couldn’t recover from, but it was a mistake. (We could have just as easily chosen to remain in the house and show it.) And that mistake did cost us some money.
Why Make Mistakes
They tend to do that, however.
Mistakes end up costing you something, otherwise you wouldn’t recognize them as such. The problem comes when you decide you want to stop making them.
While not wanting to make too many mistakes is a good idea, the desire to completely stop making mistakes can cause you to become immobile.
As I tell my daughter, you can either get no points for leaving the answer blank or give yourself the possibility of getting the right answer.
Not choosing is also a choice.
Attempt it. At least try something. The biggest danger in making mistakes is the fear of making another.
Overcoming the Fear of Making Mistakes
Every time I am afraid of making a mistake, I have learned to engage in an exercise. It’s a mental exercise of sorts, but I can also use paper.
I quickly write down some of my biggest life decisions – the ones that matter, the ones that I see all around me.
I conclude that of those decisions, some have been mistakes, sure, but most of them – by God’s grace – have worked out just fine. And if those have worked out fine, my track record for making decisions is not that bad.
It might seem a little goofy to do things this way, but it works.
It works because it removes the dread of the unknown.
Where otherwise there was only overwhelming fear and an aversion of getting it wrong, I now have some assurance of the possibility of perhaps getting it right. Or making it right.
So this year, not only will I be making more mistakes, I will be teaching my children to make more mistakes.
It is the only way to remove the sting of fear from them.