Friday, March 19, 2010

Mistakes. We all make them. No one’s immune and it’s not possible to outgrow them. I looked up the definition and here’s what I found: error, fault, blunder, miscalculation, faux pas, oversight. No where did I find the term “on purpose.” However, when someone makes a mistake, big or small, we can be guilty of accusing them as if it had been a planned thing. Mistake falls into the same category as accident. It’s not intentional.

A man and his uncle headed west during the gold-rush hoping to fulfill their dreams. They staked a claim and went to work with a pick and shovel. After several weeks of sweat and digging they hit gold. Hiding the discovery, they traveled back to the East coast to raise money for machinery.

The first load of gold proved to be some of the best in Colorado. However, their hopes for fortune evaporated as the vein of gold seemed to just disappear. They drilled and drilled with no luck.

Finally giving up, they sold their equipment to a junk man for pennies on the dollar and went back home. The junk man hired the services of a mining engineer who discovered the reason the dig failed was the young man and his uncle weren’t familiar with fault lines. They had literally stopped drilling three feet from a vein of gold the junk man eventually made millions of dollars from. Big mistake!

Years ago my mom told me the first time you make a mistake it counts as an honest mistake. You just goofed. If you make the very same mistake again, you can call it a dumb mistake. The purpose for mistakes is so we can learn. If you make the same mistake twice, obviously you didn’t use the first time for instruction. She said also to be alert to learn from other’s mistakes. It’ll save you some trouble and pain.

The young man who stopped drilling too soon took the valuable, though harsh, lesson he learned in the mining industry to go on to become one of the most successful insurance salesmen in the country. He learned from his blunder. I wonder if he would have moved on to greatness if he hadn’t make the mistake digging for gold.

The next time you miscalculate and end up in a mess; don’t kick yourself too much. Get up, learn from your mistake. Don’t stop three feet from the gold again.

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