I’m not always the best at accepting that I’ve made a mistake. Admitting failure makes me feel like an amateur and even a bit ashamed.
A couple of days ago, though, I watched the latest version of Charlie’s Angels. In it, there was a great line about “failure” that gave me the chills.
Jane, one of Charlie’s Angels, was in the middle of her third fight with Hodak, an assassin. The first two times, Hodak managed to escape. Most people would say Jane lost the fight.
While expertly punching and kicking Hodak, Jane says, “You’ve got seven moves, Mr. Hodak.” A dramatic pause. “I know them all.”
As the fight continues, the epic line follows: “You thought you beat me twice before? No.” Jane says. “I was learning.”
Jane could’ve accepted defeat and moved on. She could’ve chosen not to reflect on what she’d done wrong.
Instead, she learned from her mistakes.
That entire scene sums up how we should all feel about making mistakes. Most of us view failure as a loss — but a mistake isn’t a loss. It’s a lesson.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
Most of the time, when someone makes a mistake, they beat themselves up for it.
It starts with negative thoughts (e.g., “I’m so stupid,” “How could I’ve missed that?”). Then, the thoughts transform into anger, which converts into self-pity.
People get too caught up in their missteps. Rather than realizing they’re humans who are bound to fuck up now and then, they treat themselves like robots with a flaw in their system.
A flaw is not acceptable. You must fix it immediately.
You can see how detrimental this type of thinking can be. Failure is a part of life — the only thing you can do is accept it. If you refuse to do so, your mistakes will weigh heavier than they should.
You can probably carry a bucket filled with rocks, but add enough rocks, and the bucket will fall out of your grasp.
You’re strong, but every person has their limits. Don’t be the reason for your own downfall because you refuse to acknowledge that you’re imperfect.
View Mistakes and Failure as Lessons
When you come face to face with one of your weaknesses, don’t feel embarrassed. Figure out how to turn that weakness into one of your strengths.
The other day I read an article that advised how to grow as a writer. Reading that piece made me realize how much I’m doing wrong. I couldn’t help but feel a little less-than. As if I should’ve known what to do all along.
Everyone has two reactions when they realize they’ve made a mistake.
- They feel angry at themselves (and guilty for not having done more or better)
- They take what they’ve learned and use it to their advantage
Beating yourself up — which most people do — won’t help you accomplish anything.
View your error as a win. You’ve learned how to level up. A mistake might feel like a step backward, but it’s not. You’re one step closer to reaching the end of the game.
Figure Out What You Did Wrong and Move On
Knowing what you did wrong is a blessing. It means you can find a solution.
You only have a problem when you don’t know where you screwed up. You can’t fix the leak until you find it.
This is where people get lost. Instead of trying to figure out why they messed up, they move on. There’s no awareness, so they’re bound to repeat their mistake.
Rather than hiding from your failures by escaping reality, face them directly. Identify your mistake, why you made it, and then learn from it.
Carry that lesson with you so that you don’t slip up that way again. Not only is this the best way to deal with failure, but it’s also the only way that’ll help you succeed.
You Don’t Gain Anything When You Punish Yourself
Putting yourself down won’t help you move forward. No one should bully themselves for being flawed humans.
Would you yell at a one-year-old for falling as they learned how to walk? Yell at the toddler enough times, and eventually, he won’t want to try again. He’ll stay on the ground and crawl instead.
That’s what you do to yourself when you refuse to learn and throw a self-pity party instead. You hold yourself down.
You know you’re not an expert, so don’t expect yourself to be all-knowing. Instead, have an open mind. A mind that lets you be okay with failing and learning.
A mistake is an opportunity in disguise.
That’s the only way to succeed. Accept when you mess up and then do something about it.
Be Better Tomorrow
That’s what I tell myself every night, especially on the days when I know I could’ve done more. Whatever went down today has already happened. You can’t go back to fix your mistakes or tell yourself to try harder.
If you can’t go back in time, there’s only one thing you can do. Focus on the future.
How can I be better tomorrow? Ask yourself that every night.
Sometimes, life happens, and you have no control over those circumstances. But you still create to-do lists, make plans with friends, and follow morning routines. People think we’re victims of life, but we’re not. Not entirely, anyway.
If you decide to be better tomorrow, you can be.
Rather than crying over my mistakes, I have to learn from them and find a way to grow. It’s the only way I’ll get somewhere.
Don’t Let the Past Weigh Heavily on You
Take a rock from the bucket and throw it out into the ocean. Throw out every single one. You don’t need that type of load weighing you down.
Keep a learning mindset. Pinpoint your mistakes rather than running away from them, and then find the solution.
You might have to find it yourself, but in this day and age, a Google search can help. There are books, courses, and articles on every type of problem. (Because people embraced their mistakes and decided to help people avoid them.)
You don’t have to take this journey alone. You can ask for help. But always choose to learn and be better.
This is how you’ll grow and make it places. Dwelling on your mistakes only holds you back, and you don’t want to be the reason you never make it.
Remember, there’s only one thing you can do: Be better tomorrow.