Just as business tend to evolve thanks to failures and improvements, I strongly think that we tend to evolve through our mistakes, our errors and regrets. But I also strongly believe that not all errors are equal, and that in each of our lives, we’re making what I call some major formative mistake. Usually we don’t realize it when we’re doing them, but when time passes by and we’re looking backward, we tend to see them clearly for what they are.
Those mistakes are deeply formative in our characters, as making them make us evolve toward a greater human being. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, those mistakes are making us a bit more antifragile, as we’re building on them or rather, because of them. They are easy to identify when you’re a bit distanced from them, as they usually pack a lot of regrets. You wish you had taken another decision, another path, acted differently, … But when you look how you acted after those mistakes, you also realize that you learned a lot, you’re not making the same mistake.
Looking back, I’m able to count three major mistakes in my life. The first one was hurting someone I really loved through acts I deeply regretted. It took me 2 years to gain forgiveness from the other person, but 5 years to forgive myself. This mistake forever changed the way I envision and act into all my relationships since then, in a better way. It also made me gain a best friend and someone I don’t want to lose at all in my life.
The second was taking some distance from a friend as I felt it could endanger my relationship. Two years after I had the chance to make amend, talk with him and explain why I reacted this way and how stupid I was. Three days ago, this friend died. This mistake taught me to always be open about what you’re feeling and thinking but also, the hard way, that the people in our lives don’t last forever and that we have to act on our problem as soon as possible, when we still have the chance to.
The third one was both personal and professional as I let my ego get in the way and cloud my judgment, taking a non calculated risk that almost destroyed a lot of my relationships and career path. This mistake taught me to not let your ego get in the way and also to always listen to opposite advice. It also teached me to be more careful and consider every possibility before taking a decision. It also teached me to listen to my guts and to refuse something if it doesn’t feel right.
Those three mistakes shaped my personality and the way I’m thinking today by hitting hard on three major aspects of life: love, friendship and work. But I would say I have been “lucky” enough to have the chance to build on them, and to have the chance to make amend to both my ex lover and my friend before it was too late. Talking with a lot of people, I realized that everybody didn’t had this chance in their life unfortunately. Still those mistakes defined them, shaped their characters in a more profound way than everything else.
So if you have the chance, take a look backward, what are those decisions, those acts that you deeply regret? Can you still act on them and, if another person if involved, ask forgiveness? While those mistakes shape us, we don’t have to let them leave open wounds in our lives, scars are a way to keep the teaching while still healing.