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The Value of Mistakes

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

– Henry C. Link

A well-known story is attributed to Watson, the founder of IBM.  A newly hired engineer had made a mistake costing the company a healthy chunk of change.  Facing Watson, the young engineer expected to be fired, but Watson said “why would I fire you when the company just spent a hundred thousand dollars on your education.

Just in case my fairy godmother shows up in this lifetime, my wish is to have discovered that quote fifty years earlier. There were far too many times I hesitated at the threshold then turned away from the door, worried. . .no, not worried, but fearful of making mistakes.

I was in third grade at a brand new school.  The teacher selected me to deliver the lunch money to the classroom next door.  I remember standing outside that door. My heart was going like a trip hammer, and I was terrified that I had made a mistake and that I was the wrong door.

Why is it that children are trained away from making mistakes? Maybe a better question to ask is what compels us to compare ourselves to others, then conclude our own inferiority? Perhaps it’s genetic. Some of us stop when they don’t immediate achieve a desired outcome; others keep on learning from undesirable outcomes until they achieve mastery.

Yeah well! Spending time with those questions just keeps me from pushing the “publish button.”  And before I go, here’s something else to chew on.  Would it make any difference if there were answers for me?