An error or fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.


The poet Eli Siegel once wrote, "If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake."

So we've made a bad decision or two (or three). We've misjudged a situation, we were naive, or we were downright reckless.

What now?

Mistakes have one quality in common: choice. We made a choice and for whatever reason it had a negative impact. Can we ever hope to be perfect, simply say to ourselves, "I will never make a mistake again" and move on?

Mahatma Gandhi, a gentle supporter of peace and non-violence once wrote, "Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes."

So we're human and we screw up from time to time. Does that imply we're free from consequence?

Mistakes, like Newton's first law of energy, has a cause and an effect.

Once a mistake is made our next choice is simple: do we take responsibility for our actions and learn from them or do we project the responsibility on someone or something else?

Theodore Roosevelt, who's life was a testimony to strength, courage, and yes, learning from mistakes, once spoke these words:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

May your mistakes be transformed into the stepping stones of your garden.

Five of my personal stepping stones:

1. I remain loyal to others even when my needs aren't being met.
2. I always tell the truth even when dishonesty might serve my immediate or future needs or desires.
3. I do not assume someone will make the same choices as others in my past, even when there is substantial evidence to support those assumptions. Everyone deserves a level playing field.
4. I don't run from things that scare me.
5. I accept responsibility for my mistakes as soon as I'm able to recognize them.