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December 6, 2023

Mistakes Are Gains

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This is a mindset I’ve been working on a lot for the last year or two, and I wanted to add perspective to it. You’ve probably heard this idea a bunch of times and in a bunch of different ways: “Failure is feedback”, “You either win or you learn”, or when you lose, “You either get bitter or you get better.”

As with just about everything in our personal development, knowing it is one thing and actually believing it is another. It’s easy to rehearse good sound-bite quotes but it’s another thing to actually live them out. Especially when it’s something as vulnerable as losing, making a mistake, not being good enough, or failing... It’s even harder to be accountable to having a strong mindset.

Another way it was phrased recently by Dr. Benjamin Hardy, that really clicked for me, was that “Mistakes are gains”.

But it was within a different context. Dr. Hardy also said that “Who you are right now is as fleeting as the present moment.” The present moment is here and it’s gone, which is exactly the same as the version of you that heard the beginning of this sentence and the version of you that is finishing this sentence. There’s new information that has been incorporated to create a new you.

As humans are evolving on a moment by moment basis. This means that when we experience success or failure, it permanently changes us. But failure is an information-rich data source, so when we fail we actually advance more than we do when we succeed. Our evolution accelerates when we lose, don’t meet expectations, and fail.

That’s why it creates a binary result. Either you succeed, which is a win, or you have the opportunity to evolve more than you would have if you succeeded, which is also a win. But notice the caveat. It’s the opportunity to evolve…

The extent of growth that you experience is dependent on how receptive you are to it. So if you choose to feel bad for yourself, be avoidant of the fact that you fell short, or otherwise turn your back on really experiencing the failure out of self-preservation, you’re suffocating your ability to actually extract the full lesson that’s available to you.

As a personal example, I had a collaboration with Uber that I worked really hard to get live, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out how I wanted to. Rather than being self-critical about it or upset with myself that I blew this chance,I have dissected the reasons why it didn’t go as well as it could have so that I can be more prepared to make my next partnership successful.

But if I didn’t allow myself to see the lesson because I got caught up in being disappointed, I’m way more likely to make the same mistakes again.

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