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Make mistakes count
By Ridgely Goldsborough

A while back, one of my brothers made an error at work, which cost a client a bunch of money. They leveled accusations, pointed fingers, ranted and raved, filed a lawsuit and after a failed attempt to settle the dispute, ended up in court—a typical insurance company battle. Oh well, stuff happens.

On the one hand, I take no issue with the process. Insurance providers charge periodic premiums to a large number of policy holders and aggregate significant amounts of capital. When a policy holder has a problem, the insurance company allocates a portion of those funds to resolving the issue—classic risk management.

From an economic standpoint, absent a major catastrophe through which too many policy holders claim simultaneous losses, the model works. My challenge lies on the human side.

Why do we continue to cling to this barbaric need to vilify, castigate and put down those who make mistakes, cause them (and ourselves) to feel unworthy, dirty or bad?

“Did you hear that so-and-so did such-and-such? Oooohhh, big trouble in that house.”

Those who lead full lives will pay the price of a higher number of botches and bungles. Even the most sheltered existence will include its fair share of lapses and slip-ups. The inevitability of mistake-making ought to cause us to reconsider our perspective.

How about this?

Step One: Admit the error.
Step Two: Take responsibility for it.
Step Three: Ponder and reflect on the situation. What might we have changed? What could we do differently?
Step Four: Make a determination to avoid the same slight next time.
Step Five: Move on. Go out and make an imprint on the world, armed with more maturity, more seasoning and an increased ability to contribute.

If we follow a mistake with personal responsibility and a renewed determination to shift the behavior when we face similar circumstances, we convert it into a lesson. If we choose to dwell in the fault or mentally beat up on ourselves, we stay stuck in the problem instead of focused on solutions—a guaranteed ticket to bitterness, regret and rigidity.

Interesting how study after study tells us that we learn most during the ages of 3 and 7, that our brain expands and grows exponentially during this period. How coincidental that during these years we make the most mistakes.

Perhaps we should shift our viewpoint a tad, celebrate our humanity, embrace our imperfections, welcome the learning that derives from challenging defects or deficiencies and recognize the value of a good fall.

I don’t know about you, but I seem to mess up on a fairly regular basis, often in a pretty big way and I don’t see that varying much anytime soon. I guess that means I’m on a high learning gradient.

Besides, most of us find perfection very boring.


Ridgely began scribbling as soon as his fingers could curl around a pen. So began a love affair, interrupted periodically by schooling, business and any number of self-initiated distractions to mask the fear of pursuing his childhood dream to be a writer. The journey took him through Law School, a number of private companies, going public, a large merger and back to his desk, a computer with a keyboard and the daily challenge of following the dream. Along the way, Ridgely founded and/or acted as publisher for Network Marketing Lifestyles magazine, Domain Street magazine and the Upline Journal along with dozens of books, audio and video materials. He writes several books per year, in addition to The Daily Column. Ridgely holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Virginia, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law, is fluent in five languages and has spoken to audiences throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Mexico and North America. www.aviewfromtheridge.com





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