Lessons Learned From Making Stupid Mistakes

There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.
Lessons will be repeated until learned.

Although it’s smart to learn from the mistakes of other people, the most painful — and thus most instructive — lessons are the one’s we learn from own own mistakes.

What are some painful lessons you’ve learned recently?

The following are 8 lessons I’ve recently learned, which I hope you don’t have to learn:

1. Certain Things Are Better Left Unsaid

What is your real message? Chances are, it doesn’t need to include anything harmful about someone else.

Unfortunately, as we see in the U.S. Presidential debates, often the candidates use all of their words to bash the other candidates, rather than focusing on their message.

This happens in religion as well. Many churches spend a bulk of their time demeaning and attacking other faiths rather than focusing on their message.

Certain things don’t need to be said. They provide no value. In fact, they take away value and highlight insecurity. Your message should have power to stand on its own two feet.

Less is more. Keep your communications focused and not lost in unnecessary tangents. Just because something could be said doesn’t mean it should be.

2. Relationships Are What Matter In Life and Business

Don’t take other people for granted. Relationships are the only real thing in this life. Everything else is illusory.

Even if you fundamentally disagree with other people, that gives you no right to treat them poorly. You can’t control how other people behave, but you can absolutely control how you behave.

What takes a lifetime to build can be destroyed in a moment. Relationships are fragile. So is our character. One bad decision can ruin everything you’ve worked so hard to build.

3. Seeking Forgiveness Is About You: Being In Integrity

“Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” — Anonymous

Letting go of the need for a particular outcome is extremely liberating. In many cases — especially with other people — you can’t control the outcome. All you can focus on is your own behavior.

When you harm other people, you can’t make them forgive you. But you can still be penitent for what you’ve done, which involves:

  • No longer making the same mistake in the future (i.e., learning your lesson)
  • Seeking restitution by doing everything in your power to make things right
  • Immediately and frankly forgiving all others who wrong you

There is nothing more liberating than forgiveness. Conversely, there is nothing more poisonous and harmful than the lack of forgiveness. However, forgiving someone doesn’t mean you pretend nothing happened. Nor does it mean things are as they once were.

4. Humility Is Not A Weakness, It Is Confidence

“He who is humble is confident and wise. He who brags is insecure and lacking.” — Lisa Edmondson

Ego is the enemy.

The ancient Roman, Paul, once told the people of Corinth, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Humility reflects character. It’s quite easy to be humble when things aren’t going well. However, the more successful you become (in your own eyes), the more difficult it is to remain humble. As Abraham Lincoln has said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” To be humble is to have power, regardless of your standing among men.

It can be intimidating to face your challenges and demons head on. But as Ryan Holiday has said, “The obstacle in the way becomes the way.” Indeed, one of the greatest lessons we can learn is to turn our trials into triumphs. To quote Charles R. Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

5. Don’t Be So Afraid To Make Mistakes That You Don’t Try

I know many people who are so afraid to make mistakes that they never begin in the first place. Perfectionism and arrogance leads to procrastination and never doing the work.

But making mistakes is how you often learn. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Life is a classroom. We are here to learn and grow. Making mistakes is part of the process.

If I taught my three foster kids to never make mistakes, they’d be scared to do anything. They wouldn’t learn. And they’d also never do anything of significance.

When you set out to do something, expect to make mistakes along the way. You don’t know what you don’t know. And the mistakes you make are often the most potent and painful lessons you need to learn to become the person you need to be.

6. When You Make Mistakes: Take Full Responsibility And Then Move Forward

“If you have no regrets from the life you have lived, your biggest regret should be the life you haven’t lived.”―Robert Sauber

When you fail epically:

  • Own it
  • Try to fix it
  • And then let it go

It’s easily to be paralyzed by the mistakes you’ve made — to lose your confidence and drive. But dwelling on the past does nothing positive for anyone, especially yourself.

You wouldn’t be making big mistakes if you weren’t undertaking great stuff. The biggest regret would be letting your mistakes stop you from finishing the work you’ve set out to do.

Keep moving.

7. Lessons Will Be Repeated Until Learned

My cousin, Jesse, used to be an avid smoker. He smoked several packs of cigarettes per day. But on Halloween of 2012, after over a decade of smoking, he quit cold-turkey. And hasn’t touched a cigarette since.

“How did you do it?” I asked him.

“I reached a boiling point — which became a point of no return,” he answered. “My throat was really starting to hurt, and I knew I needed to stop or things would be bad.”

Until it hurts badly enough, you’ll probably keep making the same mistakes. And unfortunately, lessons will be repeated until learned. Human beings are magnets. As James Allen wrote in As a Man Thinketh, “Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.”

Until we can learn from and evolve past our current paradigms, we will continue to attract the very things we hate. We are not cursed. The world isn’t an evil place. We are the root cause of everything going on around us.

Once we learn our lesson, those things will go away and we’ll attract new things into our world.

8. The Law Of The Boomerang Is Real: Never Forget It

People aren’t just magnets, they are also mirrors.
  • If you want someone to punch you in the nose, all you have to do is punch them in the nose.
  • If you want someone to send you a Christmas card, just send them a Christmas card.
  • If you want someone to invite you over for dinner, invite them to your house for dinner. Shortly thereafter you’ll receive an invitation for a slightly nicer dinner than they received at your house.

If you want someone to like you, all you have to do is like them. Our deeds, attitudes, and thoughts attract in kind. Like attracts like.

In this way, you can know in advance how people will react to a given situation. Just decide what you want, and then give accordingly. This is the essence of leadership.


There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. And lessons will be repeated until learned. Life is nothing more than a big classroom.

Life is amazing.

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