Be comfortable making mistakes


My step-brother-in-law is a pretty impressive guy. I don’t know him all that well (not that surprising given our slightly convoluted connection) but every time we meet up I hear about some interesting and complex project that he’s working on, usually involving home renovation. He lives in a farm house on a large property in a fairly rural area, so he’s got a lot of room for things to happen. Even still, his list of projects are nothing short of extraordinary. At his house, he’s put in new flooring, new windows, a koi pond, a garden, a conversion of the barn into an apartment, and the list goes on. I sometimes get exhausted just hearing about what he’s up to.

It’s not like this guy has tons of time on his hands. He has a full-time job and two young children. I wonder, when does he do all this? It seems like he has figured out how to add that eighth day of the week that scientists have been scratching their heads over for a long time. Does he have extra arms? Maybe he’s put his koi to work, like some kind of live-action Dr. Seuss maneuver.

Hard worker
Hard worker

More than just making the time though, I’ve always wondered how he’s able to do on all these varied projects. Putting in a floor requires very different skills from tending a garden. Installing new plumbing in a bathroom is very different from installing the bathroom itself. I believe he works in finance, not construction. So what gives?

When I asked how he was able to do all of these varied pursuits, he replied simply, with an almost Zen-like calm:

“I’m comfortable making mistakes.”

Don’t get angry, get busy

It’s always a struggle to keep my feelings of envy get in the way of learning from people. If only I could be that calm and self-assured! But if being comfortable with mistakes is what it takes to get big things done, then sign me up.

Now, to be fair, there could be any number of other abilities that enables this guy to work his feats, but it’s certainly a good motto to keep in mind as you work on your work. You’re going to make mistakes. (Lots of them.) You’re going to mess up. You’re going to hurt someone you care about. You’re going to to make a bad call here and there. So you can either accept this and plow through, or you can let it keep you from beginning. And as everyone knows, you can’t finish unless you begin.

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So the next time you think, “I can’t do that”, remember this guy and the motto that enables him to keep going and going and power through projects even when he has no experience with them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go train some koi.

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