Brilliant Blunders: Spiritual Evolution through Failure

It’s not every day that you get to have lunch with a senior astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute. So, yesterday was my lucky day.

Mario Livio is a super smart guy who is telling the stories of other super smart guys who made super big mistakes that lead to things like….evolution… and the theory of relativity.

More than 20 percent of Einstein’s original papers contain mistakes of some sort,” Livio writes. “In several cases, even though he made mistakes along the way, the final result is still correct. This is often the hallmark of great theorists: They are guided by intuition more than by formalism.

And this is the hallmark of greatness of all kinds. Our brains can only get us so far. That is when genius kicks in. That is what makes the difference between the good, and the great. We rarely understand how many mistakes pave the road to success — how seemingly “wrong turns” are just a redirection to the right place. Even for historical titans like Einstein and Darwin.

Whether you are making scientific discoveries, or plain old life decisions, the process is the same. We need to be smart; but, ultimately, we need to follow our Intuition. It is our secret weapon. It is the icing on our cake. It picks up where the mind leaves off, and takes us to the places where the mind can’t. At every dead end, every blocked path, every failure — Intuition has the way out. When you can’t think your way out, if you listen….I mean really listen, you can always intuit your way out. That’s the secret every genius knows.

The creative process contains two very important things: Intuition and mistakes. Creating solutions out of mistakes is the constant job of Intuition. If you are painting a picture, you make mistakes all the time; the trick to making a good painting is to know how to use those mistakes to make the painting better. Same goes for life. And scientific discovery. And just about any other creative process on earth.

Our mistakes make the painting of our lives so much more interesting. They add depth, insight and wisdom. When you look back at your wrong turns, look for the gifts that came with them — for the life that came out of them. Mistakes are never failures. The only way to really fail is to stop trying.

So, if you think you don’t use your Intuition, guess again. You use it every day. Everyone does. And the more you become aware of it, the better you get at it. Keep it up, and, who knows, you might just be the next Einstein