Learning from Your Mistakes

Excerpt from the book Gypsy Soul, by David Hughes.

NBA legend Michael Jordan may have missed more shots than you or I, but the biggest difference is he kept trying and tried to learn from each miss. Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game he loved.

He has stated: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

NHL legend Wayne Gretzky may have missed more shots than you or I, but he kept shooting and through awareness made little corrections to each miss until he scored more goals than any other hockey player in history. If something is wrong with our game, developing awareness can transform that something into specifics.

You have probably heard of Babe Ruth because of his home run record, a total of 714 during his career. What you may not know is that Ruth also had 1,330 strikeouts. He is the former record holder in this category. When asked about this, he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

One common element among these athletes is the striving to be the best they can be in their athletic endeavors. They focused on the journey, learning from mistakes and striving for daily improvement, and they let the destination take care of itself. In your life, do not worry about championships and accolades; do not worry about your competition or what the critics think. This will lead to stress and tension, as you have no control over these things.

Instead focus on constant daily improvement. Action precedes accolades. Focus on your game and how you can make it better through constant practice and correcting those little mistakes you make along the way. The daily practice and correcting mistakes is the journey, the rewards at the end are the destination. Focus on the journey, not the destination. The journey is the here and now. If you focus on the journey, the destination will take care of itself. You have no control over the destination, you only have influence on the journey.

It is said that a mistake is only a mistake if it is repeated, and I can honestly say I have made a lot of mistakes. Whenever I messed up, I would get frustrated and upset and dwell on these mistakes. But life has taught me it is best to learn from my mistakes and to not take myself too seriously. Those mistakes are so small in the grand scheme of things.

Looking at and developing awareness of past mistakes and failures can be a painful experience, but it can help develop any areas of weakness. After all, you cannot improve a weakness you are not aware of. Some call it knowing what you don’t know, so you can prepare to learn what you don’t know.

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