The Choices We Called Mistakes

Courage to embrace them intentionally

One of the lessons I’ve learned since living more intentionally was to embrace mistakes. This sounds like incitement to do wrong. It’s not. It’s been demonstrated that mistakes are the inspiration of many of life’s endless choices.

The story of Lucy and Joe illustrates this ideology.

Lucy was a girl I knew in early university years. Like me, she aspired to live a full life, which was to graduate with a first class, marry Henry the Hunk, have his children and ultimately live happily ever after. But then, it’s not always easy to see the bigger picture when you’re nineteen.

For Lucy, it was a single incident of bare-backing with Steve that changed the story. Weeks turned to months and after nine months came the baby boy. With the weight of the world on her shoulders, diaper changing and baby screaming, Lucy fights off depression in her contrition as Steve moves on with life.

It was performance appraisal season at Joe’s place of work and the pressure was at its peak. He had just read a third memo that undermined his work and questioned his adequacy. This time the bully boss had added all team members in the Cc section of the mail. Breathe in, breathe out. Sleep over it before you reply, were Joe’s default response.

But not today. His subdued reflexes and silenced impulses cried out. His sanity was being threatened daily by repeated acts of intimation and harassment by an insensitive manager. He felt pressed to the wall. It was time to set free those reflexes.

Joe’s furious fingers went to work. As the keyboard chattered off responding to each accusation presented in the memo, Joe not only set the records straight, he stood up to a bully. Three pages long and laced with polite sarcasm in the final paragraph, his response was ready. Hit send? Send. Then came an afterthought. Oops! Recall failed.

All of his youth Joe had been a victim of bullying and abuse. Psyched to live pay check to pay check, he was conditioned to believe the job was worth his sanity. The company decided to scale down her operations and the pressure of job insecurity weighed upon him. Then he quit after the query.

It’s only six years later, Joe currently runs a successful tele-marketing firm and is a proud employer of labour himself. A choice we called mistake.

It’s been twenty years of marriage, multiple failed IVF interventions and menopause knocking. She may never experience the pains and joys of motherhood. That would have been Lucy had she not made the choice twenty six years earlier. The choice we called mistake.

The scenarios play out differently for all of us but if you’re imperfect as I am, you’ve walked the paths of regret over your past mistakes.

Now is the time to forgive yourself.

You did the best you could with what you knew at the time so take the lesson and make it harder to mess up again. To do this I recommend that you acknowledge your errors and reflect on them for a while. Reflect, don’t dwell on them. Having an accountability partner might help achieve this but ultimately you’re the right one to make such judgement.

The truth is, sometimes we deny our deepest and truest impulses of choice because we lack the courage to embrace its consequences.

I am lucky to have learned how to change this in a good time – the middle ages. A person half way through their time on earth ought to realise that we cannot control every experience that serves to shape our lives but we can transform them.

I found the best choices of my life in mistakes. Through the intentional ownership of your actions, you too can transform that mistake to a choice. Everything works out for good in the end.

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