Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Are They Mistakes...Or Blessings in Disguise?

A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

--George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish playwright and critic

Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.

--Babe Ruth (1895–1948) American baseball player

Most people agree that the last Pope, John Paul II, was a remarkable and inspiring man. I always found curious that his first words as pope were, Fear not; be not afraid. It's taken me a while to grasp why he might have said that. Perhaps he was shaking in his boots himself at being elected pope.

The great thing about being a teenager is that at that age, you're fearless....except for panic at the thought of being uncool. As we get older, we realize that a lot of other things can go wrong, and that being uncool is not such a bad thing after all.

It's one thing to be prudent, and another thing to be paralyzed at the idea of taking risk. Sometimes it's hard to discern what's being prudently cautious, and what's being fearful.

There's fear of failure, fear of not being responsible, fear of not being a perfect parent (don't worry, your child turning into a teen will permanently deliver you from that fear by informing you of your immeasurable incompetence.)

The reality is, what you think is a mistake one day, may pay off in the future. Either the mistake turns out to be a stroke of genius, or you learn something so valuable that the mistake becomes your precious teacher.

If you are convinced that mistakes are bad, indications of your being a failure, or incompetent, then you naturally fear making them. If you realize that mistakes always bring you closer to your goals, you experience much less fear. And in both cases, things you do will not always turn out the way you expect, e.g. "mistakes" are inevitable.

One of the themes of the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, is that a person can appear to be a mistake, but isn't. Like Forrest Gump, Benjamin Button arrives on this earth with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, but actually, both characters become teachers of so-called normal people.

Or consider the case of the "big mistake" of an unwanted pregnancy. A new baby always brings happiness, and the people who get to raise this child receive immeasurable blessing.

So, fear not making a mistake. Just go about your business with full confidence.