Mistakes Will Be Made

At a conference this weekend my fellow digital marketing panelists and I were asked to share something “funny or unique” about ourselves with attendees. After some consideration of the things I could share, I came up with a variation on this . . .

“As my family, friends, and those who follow me on Instagram know, I love to ride my bike. What they also may tell you is that I regularly fall off of, or run into things, when on my bike.

I don’t often crash the same way twice, but I am very good at finding new ways to fall. And that’s okay because, with each failure, I learn something new. And this idea, that mistakes happen, and that with each mistake comes something I can learn, serves me well not only on the bike but also in digital marketing.”

I went into this blog thinking that I would write about the importance of never being too old or too experienced to stop learning. I was going to share with you the story of a man I met years ago who, upon hearing I was planning on attending some sessions at a conference we were both at, told me “I don’t attend sessions, I only speak at them.” (Isn’t that cool for him that he already knew “all the things?”)

I was going to tell you about our friend – a doctor, mom, and badass cyclist – who decided that, on top of everything else, she needed to learn how to build a treehouse. And how she built that treehouse because, like all of the coolest, most inspirational people I know, she is open to, and curious about. . . everything.

But as I shared one story of trying to cross a particularly pesky bit of terrain with a pair of incredulous looking bankers, I realized that what I found inspiring about so many people was not their successes, but their failures.

Because, just as the “lessons are in the losses,” the mistakes are where we learn to do it right. The campaign that didn’t run because of a mismatched URL. The mud puddle that was met because we were moving too slowly. The treehouse wall that needed to be re-done because the siding was put on backward.

Would it be preferable to avoid the mistakes? Maybe. While these moments can be funny, they can also be embarrassing, humiliating, or just really wet. But they are also the time when we can take stock and figure out what we did wrong. A chance to learn, improve, or change course. Mistakes keep us grounded. Keep us on our toes. Keep us from getting complacent. And teach us how to recover.

To wish we won’t make any mistakes at all is pointless – because perfection is impossible, and mistakes will be made.

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