There are no mistakes, only experiences.
In reality, there is no such thing as a mistake because we have free will and we are free to do what we want, when we want and in any way we choose. Man coined the word “mistakes” because he created an elaborate list of do’s and don’ts. If you did what you weren’t supposed to do, then according to the man-made set of rules, you made a mistake in the eyes of society.
Everything you do is simply an experience. It is the accumulation of experiences that have made you to be the person you are today. If you hadn’t stumbled and fallen flat on your face, you wouldn’t have learned how to face and overcome adversity, for example.
Here are a few things that have happened in my life that others might perceive as “mistakes" or “disasters, " or simply “bad. " I have written about most of them and for those of you who are reading my work for the first time, the title of the stories have been provided for your convenience. Since I am not allowed to have more than 3 self serving links, I'm sorry to say that if you want to read up on those stories, you'll need to manually find the titles under my name.
Actually, you can visit my blog at the following site where I've posted the exact same article with easy-to-click links:
a. Gave up my home of 15 years in New York City to move 1,000 miles away to another state to participate in a book project only to see it fall apart a year later.
b. Worked for a very difficult boss who truly tried to make life impossible for me. (Title of Story: “Harry, The Bank Boss").
c. Scary experience at the barber shop, where I literally feared for my physical safety. (Title of story: “Adversity at the Barber Shop").
d. Mismanaged my finances during the mid-eighties, causing myself to be riddled with debt. (Title of Story: “Ask and You Shall Receive Miracles").
e. Opened an investment account with the “grandmotherly client" at Merrill Lynch only to have her threaten me with legal action a few years later. (Title of story: “How to Banish Worry When All Hell Breaks Loose").
f. Was hoping to open a multi-million dollar account with the “wealthy lady from Oregon" only to find out she had me snookered - she turned out to be a fake. I posted an article about this yesterday - in case you missed it, it's called: “Part III - Trust That There are Bigger Plans in Store for You - CNN Story. "
g. Shaved my head in high school in hopes of making the swimming finals but failed to make it. (Title of Story: “Entertain the Possibilities-Swimming Championships").
h. Moved away from the podium during a speech early in my speaking career where my mind suddenly went blank.
i. Rinsed out my mouth with mouthwash before a major speech only to find out it was concentrated stuff, causing my tongue to swell moments before stepping on stage. Haven't read that one before? (Title of story: “The Value of Humor through Adversity-The Mouthwash Incident").
j. Pretended to be someone I was not (i. e. a hearing person versus deaf), only to find myself with someone who had other things in mind for me. It is a hilarious story that could have turned tragic. (Title of Story: “The Price You Pay for Not Accepting Yourself").
The answer to the question of whether any of the above were “mistakes" is a resounding NO.
None of them were - they were merely “experiences. " Each and every one of them shaped me to be the person that I am today. I have learned some pretty incredible lessons.
a. If I hadn’t moved to 1,000 miles away from New York City, I wouldn’t have become a pilot and made aviation history 5 years later. Had I stayed there, post 9-11 airspace restrictions would have severely hampered my ability to learn how to fly. The lesson here was to follow my intuition in the face of the unknown. I moved out of NYC long before 9-11 happened.
b. Harry, “The Bank Boss" taught me that love ultimately wins in the end. I also learned how to harness the power of visualization to my benefit (got promoted).
c. The situation with the barber showed me how to remain cool in a potentially explosive and/or life threatening situation.
d. If I hadn’t mismanaged my finances, I wouldn’t have learned how to respect the energy of money.
e. The “grandmotherly client" situation taught me how to have faith in the universe during a very trying time of my life. It demonstrated that if you do everything with integrity, divine justice will prevail.
f. If I hadn't had the experience with the “fake lady" from Oregon, I wouldn't know how to tell the difference between people who are genuine and a fake. I also wouldn't have experienced the feeling of being snookered!
g. If I hadn’t shaved my head for the swimming finals, I wouldn’t have known what it was like to be the only bald kid in high school. Besides, I will not be sitting in my rocking chair as an old man, wondering whether I should have shaved my head or not. I'm glad I did!
h. As far as the “moving away from the podium" situation, I would not have learned how to turn an embarrassing event into one of humor and move on. It was actually a good thing.
i. The “concentrated mouthwash" incident taught me the same kind of lesson I learned from the “moving away from the podium" situation. Using humor works and it breaks down other people's mistrust, resistance and brings them together.
j. Not accepting my disability (deaf) caused me unnecessary pain and embarrassment, even putting my life in a very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. Lesson? It's a whole lot easier to accept and love yourself because then others can love and accept YOU for who you are.
Therefore, in God’s eyes, I’ve never made a mistake. I’ve merely accumulated a lifetime of experiences to make me the person I am today.
What about you?
Food for thought: Do you regret the things you've done or said in the past? Do you see yourself as have made “mistakes" in your life? How about if you turned those thoughts around and viewed everything that happened to you as a string of “experiences" instead? Wouldn't that make you less afraid to step outside the box for yet another “experience"? Think about it.
Profoundly deaf since birth, Stephen Hopson is a former award-winning stockbroker turned motivational speaker, author and pilot. He works with organizations that are ready to explore and overcome adversity because no one is immune from it - adversity does not discriminate. His professional speaking services, Obstacle Illusions, include fun and passionate presentations, especially the story of how his fifth grade teacher forever changed his young life with THAT'S RIGHT STEPHEN!
You can view his website at http://www.sjhopson.com
Stephen also maintains a blog called “Adversity University" at http://adversityuniversity.blogspot.com/
If you are curious as to how well Stephen speaks, listen to this audio post: http://adversityuniversity.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-myself-to-people-who-hire.html