Follow us:


Maureen Adams
25 February 2021
The joy of making mistakes

Growing up in Northern Ireland risk was part of our everyday lives. Reading the marvellous Booker prize winner ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns, I reflected on what we are told about the scope of our lives when young. This advice stays with us often much longer than we realise. ‘It’s safe to stay here but don’t go there’ – where the invisible line separated one geographical location from another.

Where are our limits and who defines them as adults?

I have been revisiting these concepts and the work of Carol Dweck, an American psychologist and Professor of Psychology who has helped thousands of children achieve beyond expectations. She believed that instead of avoiding failure, trying and failing if necessary, to fire up the brain to learn more and to develop.  She believes in ‘growth’ mindsets, rather than ‘fixed’ mindsets.>

In her book ‘Mindset’ she explains her theory.

‘The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset’

‘But’, our inner voice says, ‘if we try something new or different, we might win and we might fail!’. Or as Professor Dweck asks – is there really a dichotomy? Might we just develop and grow more as individuals?  Trying is the key.

This year I have decided to let more green bottles wobble and perhaps even fall, but they won’t be parked on a wall forever without being revisited. Just like our early concepts of what can and can’t be done. 

I am as risk-averse as many others – I want my projects to succeed, and I want the eventual longed-for holiday to be well-planned. But,  I want to change and grow as a person at the same time and learn from my mistakes. Otherwise, I deny myself the human experience of change,  I deny myself the opportunity to develop a new persona that learns to adapt to the changing world around us. 

The implications

That world needs us to take care of ourselves and others.  To make decisions based on sound knowledge and to think about the implications of our actions.

So, as we see friends, colleagues, and family struggling not to make mistakes and perhaps experiencing stress as a result, what can we do? 

Giving advice, tempting though it is, may not be the answer here. Tuning into their world, when invited, and understanding how they see things may help. Just listening can be so important. We can perhaps save our advice for ourselves.

Like so many people, a few of my bottles have taken a serious wobble this year. I am grateful to for the medical profession giving their all, the supermarket workers, the kindness of neighbours, the grass under my feet and the beauty of my little green bottles. They were salvaged from London in the 1930s and reclaimed as a thing of beauty.

crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram