‘To err is Human…’
(I shall not comment on the forgiving part, or divinity, as of now.)
So, to come back, to make mistakes is what apparently teaches us and makes us better human beings.
If you do not fail, you do not know the sweetness of success.
It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
It is on our failures that we base a new and different and better success.
Failure is instructive.
And of course, from the Man (Gandhi) himself, ‘Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.’
Yet, we are all afraid of making mistakes. We all dread errors, and try our best to avoid them. It somehow makes all the above sentences patronizing and hollow to think that it is only because we were not correct, that we seek shelter and sympathy in them.
So what is it about being right and wrong, making mistakes and not making them, that makes this whole thought so important. Why is it so important to be correct?
The whole idea rests upon the importance of the event. Some instances are ‘make-or-break’.
Making a mistake in the name of your most important client is not comparable to mistaking the name of an author during a friendly conversation. (Though at the moment it may seem so)
We all make different kinds of mistakes. To friends and family, mistakes are alright. But even they can get irritable if the same mistake is oft repeated.
What makes an ‘error’?
Some errors are endearing. But the reason they are errors are because they are not socially acceptable or, are incorrect deductions.
Humans are social beings. They have made certain laws and abide by them on a day to day basis, as a general untaught principle. To pass-by one of these laws is therefore considered an occurrence of a ‘mistake’. However, people usually rectify themselves on future occasions. Once you know the person is married, you will try not to connote them as single.
Other mistakes are those of a larger scale. Mistakes that cannot be rectified. Like an error of judgment by the judge and jury while convicting someone. Like walking out on your best friend.
Some mistakes seem larger than they actually are. They are the ones that hurt our pride. Small mistakes that we can laugh on later, at that precise moment they seem monumental. For example, the mistake in identifying a certain book section during a friendly debate with a couple of friends; an error in judging the correct route while going to an important seminar/ concert; making the proverbial ‘foot-in-mouth’ during a conversation. Unwittingly they may be escalated, but most times they are diffused and taken as what they are – small mistakes.
Personal life mistakes are again rectifiable, but not easy to do so. An error in an answer paper can change the course of ones’ life, dictating ones stand in class or, acceptability in certain institutions. A change in one’s career may be easy to talk of, but a mistake in choosing one is sadly, as common as it is unchanged. An engineer may have flourished as an HR manager in a company and a lawyer would have made a better statistician. Though an MBA gives people an easy way out of a career mistake, the other choices and avenues of change are not those that many people opt for.
We all err, we are surrounded by mistakes and leave a maze of un-corrected blunders behind us. The longer we live, the more we become adept at avoiding past mistakes, and uncovering new ones. Learning is a constant process, and unfortunately pocketed by mistakes. One does not learn to ride the bicycle unless one falls from it.
The only thing that we wish for, at the end, is skewing the mistake balance to fewer life altering mistakes and higher negligible ones.