Friday, 9 August 2019

In praise of making mistakes: how fast and cheap mistakes can accelerate your success

It takes a while before a man realises that he is going to die some day. Some people never become conscious of their mortality, and continue to waste their days until the very last moment. Drug consumption, including alcohol, is a failed attempt to appease the anxiety created by the fundamental truth that time moves in only one direction. Accepting that your days are limited is a precondition for making the best use of your time.

With happiness as a long-term goal, personal growth becomes a short-term objective. With longevity as a desirable aim, good nutrition becomes a crucial element of a good lifestyle. The general goals are given by nature, but each individual must define his own strategy.

Gaining understanding of the fact that each passing day is irrecoverable exerts enormous pressure on insecure persons. They wonder incessantly if they are doing the right thing, or enough of it. They speculate about a myriad of projects they could be carrying out instead of what they are doing right now. They spend hours on end reading news pieces about who is doing what, how fast, and how well.

Should you let anxiety drive your life? In the pursuit of your goals, how can you strike the optimal balance between peace of mind and personal growth? An hour always has sixty minutes, and every new day is offering you another twenty-four hours. However, exaggerated time-consciousness and focus on achievement may lead you to psychological misery that is hardly any better than the confusion of idle people. Personal growth requires balance as much as it requires passion.

Drawn with charcoal

The path to happiness should be first drawn with charcoal, and then brought to life with oil colours. You will gain additional knowledge as you move forward. A fair share of mistakes is inescapable, since you will sometimes take the wrong turn of the road. Nobody possesses the ability to make the right decision every time.

No one can at the same time concentrate his resources on the future, and fully enjoy the present. Each individual is born and raised in different circumstances. Genetics, talent and other personal qualities will vary from one person to the next, even within the same family. A philosophical approach to happiness should not deviate from the hard rules of biology.

Imagine a young man who, growing in a favourable environment, has identified his lifetime ambitions when he is fifteen years old. He may well spend the rest of his life pursuing his goals, but there is no guarantee that he will achieve them. Anyone entering a profession has to learn the trade, and assimilate its written and unwritten rules.

Sooner or later, insufficient knowledge, misunderstandings or bad luck may slow down his progress or bring it to a standstill. Any biography you read will provide evidence of this principle. Just as trains stop from time to time, careers will sometimes stall and fortunes lost.

Occasionally, evil forces may play a role in destroying great ambition, but those cases are rarer than popular accounts tend to portray. Discouragement is the natural response to failure, but human beings can develop extreme resiliency and surmount all disappointments. The winter rarely kills trees weakened by autumn storms. Soon enough, spring rains will nourished new seeds, which will take root during the summer warmth.

Along the way

You just need to adapt the speed of your personal growth to your constraints. In order to move forward, you should employ the success formula that applies to all individuals, countries, and historical periods: Experience has taught me that the best strategy is to identify your goal, start moving immediately towards it, and then correct your mistakes along the way.

Relentless action will help you advance on the road of your choice, but the crucial aspect in happiness is not motivation but effectiveness. Anyone can raise his motivation level by attending rallies and listening to enthusiastic speeches, but the effects will be short-lived.. You can sign and dance, dream and speak loudly, but very little will be achieved just by doing that.

Whether other people support or oppose your initiatives will play only a minor role in the long-term. Nasty criticism is like the noise of trains running on their tracks. Indeed, the noise will accompany the train, but what moves the waggons is the engine, not the noise.

Instead of focusing on motivation, you should concentrate on taking action. Let your daily work take you to better places. What you do counts more than what you dream about. Increased effectiveness is the typical consequence of focused, consistent action. If you wish, do spend some time cultivating your motivation, but do not turn it into a game of its own. Talking is not tantamount to doing.

Fast and cheap mistakes are the cardinal accelerators of success. Inexpensive errors mark the smoothest way to happiness, in particular when you rapidly acknowledge and correct them. Learn a lesson from each mistake, so that you don't repeat its cause and effect. This factor alone will have compound positive effects on your achievement, enabling you to attain goals you had thought beyond your reach.

The experience acquired in a few years of continuous action will teach you more than decades of enthusiastic motivational talks. Reality is too complex to be reduced to motivational theory. True personal growth can only be achieved only through constant action, trial and error, and intelligent realignment.

Just like minerals are diluted in sea water, knowledge is condensed from action. If you wish to become a great surfer, you'll have to taste sea water hundreds of times. As you learn to face the wind, your reflexes will become faster. In your search of happiness, let practise take precedence over speculation. Do no waste your limited time on empty talks. Let your mistakes lead you to new insights and a sharper vision.


Image: Photograph of classical painting. Photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2019.

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