Don’t ever make the error of thinking you will never make a mistake.

“A mistake is just a bend in the road; it is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.”


Accept that mistakes happen. Don’t be like the father whose son graduated from military academy: During the marching out parade the proud dad pointed out, “Everyone is out of step except for Johnny!”

Learning from experience is painful; not learning from experience, more so.

In his book, Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Brian Cavanaugh tells of an anonymous account of lives out of balance: In 1923, nine of the world’s most successful financiers met at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel. Financially, they literally ‘held the world by the tail’. Anything that money could buy was within their grasp; they were rich, rich, rich! Here are their names and the high positions they held:

  1. Charles Schwab, president of the largest steel company;
  2. Samuel Insull, president of the largest electric utility company;
  3. Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company;
  4. Arthur Cutten, the great wheat speculator;
  5. Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange;
  6. Albert Fall, Secretary of Interior in President Harding’s Cabinet;
  7. Leon Fraser, president of the Bank of International Settlements;
  8. Jesse Livermore, greatest “bear” on Wall Street;
  9. Ivar Kreuger, head of the world’s greatest monopoly.

Certainly, we must admit that there were gathered a group of the world’s most successful men – at least, men who had found the secret of making money. Let’s see where these men were 25 years later, in 1948:

  1. The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money for five years before his death;
  2. The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died a fugitive from justice and penniless in a foreign land;
  3. The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson was insane;
  4. The great wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten died abroad, insolvent;
  5. The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney was released from Sing Sing Penitentiary;
  6. The member of the president’s cabinet, Albert Fall was pardoned from prison so he could die at home, broke;
  7. The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser died a suicide;
  8. The “great bear” of Wall Street, Jesse Livermore committed suicide;
  9. Ivar Kreuger, the greatest monopoly player, also took his own life.

All these men learned well the art of making money, but not one of them learned how to live. A vast amount of talent and potential went down the drain with these men. What happened? Their lives were out of balance.

Source: Brian Cavanagh, 1994, Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, New Jersey: Paulist Press, p.52-54

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

Oscar Wilde

I remember some time ago being on the treadmill at the gym, and I got a bit bored of the monotony and figured the treadmill was so repetitive that I could do it with my eyes closed… so I did a rather foolish thing; I tried it! I put my hands over the safety bars (not that it helped), closed my eyes and counted to five. That was easy enough, so I tried it again, this time see if I could reach 10 seconds. What I forgot is that our eyes help us to maintain balance… by the time I got to 7 seconds I fell head over heels and ended up crumpled on the floor with my head bouncing repeatedly off the moving belt! I hurt myself (not badly) but it was nothing compared to my pride. The whole gym came to a standstill as people looked over to see what had happened. Totally embarrassed I jumped up and blurted out without thinking: “It’s alright. ‘I’m okay… I just closed my eyes for a second!”

The illustration behind this tale is this: if we take our eyes off the goal that Jesus set for us – to live holy lives, pleasing to God – we run the danger of losing our balance, of falling and injuring ourselves, or others.

R. Ian Seymour

D. H. Lawrence said, ‘If only one could have two lives. The first in which to makes one’s mistakes and the second in which to profit by them.’

“I don’t know about you, but I’d rather reach 90% of my potential with plenty of mistakes than reach only 10% with a perfect score.”

John C. Maxwell (leadership guru and writer)

A manager working at IBM lost $10 million on a project he was working on. His boss immediately cancelled the project and called the manager into his office.

“I suppose you are going to fire me,” the man said.

“Fire you,” replied his boss. “Why on earth would I do that when we have just spent $10 million educating you?”

I heard an embarrassing but funny story, apparently true, about someone getting the wrong impression: A lady called Mrs Shelly Watson was about to step out of the shower when she realised there were no clean towels in the bathroom. Not unduly concerned (the house being empty) she walked naked downstairs to get a towel from the tumble drier, which was in the back porch, but she hadn’t managed to get a towel out of the machine when she heard the milkman coming up the porch steps. He always left the milk on the back step and so she quickly stepped inside a cupboard, in case he should look through the screen door and see her. As she stood waiting for him to leave, the cupboard door was suddenly flung open, and standing in front of her was the gas meter reader! In her embarrassment she blurted out, “Aarrgghh! I thought you were the milkman!” – Shelly’s husband, who had come home unexpectedly and had shown the meter reader where to find the meter, was not amused.

Incredible Urban Legends, Tobar Ltd: Suffolk (2007), p.7

Stupidity got us into this mess – why can’t it get us out of it?

Two men walk into a bar … Ouch!

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it!”

attributed to O. A. Battista

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

James Joyce

“Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes is right, but it takes a slightly bigger man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”

General Peyton C. March

To err is human, to repeat it is stupid.

“To err is human… but when you wear the eraser out ahead of the pencil, you’re overdoing it!”

Jerry Jenkins (author)

To err is human but to cock things up completely takes a computer!


“If only we could have our second thoughts first!”

John Maxwell

Let go of your mistakes and move on. Don’t let a temporary setback become a permanent defeat; don’t allow your mistakes to imprison you. In some parts of India the locals have a technique for catching monkeys, which they then sell in the market place. The technique is very simply and it works like this: First of all, they put some tempting tit-bits of food, maybe some fruit and nuts, into a heavy glass bottle which has a narrow mouth. They then secure the bottle to the ground or to the base of a tree, sprinkle a few more tit-bits around it, and leave it alone for a while. The monkey comes along, puts his hand through the narrow mouth of the bottle and grabs a fistful of goodies. – This is the monkey’s mistake! – You see, the monkey can’t get its clenched fist back out of the bottle, and it doesn’t have the sense to simply let go of its treasure! It becomes trapped in a blunder of its own doing. – Don’t follow suit. Don’t become trapped in a blunder of your own doing; don’t allow non-success to become permanent failure; don’t allow non-success to imprison you. Instead, acknowledge your mistakes, then let go of them and move on.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt adapted from Discover Your True Potential

A man who never makes mistakes never makes anything!

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Just don’t respond with encores!

“When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”

Abraham Lincoln

A mistake is evidence that at least someone tried to do something!

“A successful career has been full of blunders.”

attributed to Charles Buxton

“A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful that a life spent doing nothing.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), dramatist and critic

He who is faultless is lifeless!

“The greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid of making one!”

Elbert Hubbard (writer)

A stone with a flawed diamond in it is still far more valuable than a perfect stone with no diamond in it.

“No man ever became great except through many and great mistakes.”

William Gladstone (1809-1898), four-times British prime minister