|America's trusted voice on money and business, Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert and extremely popular national radio personality. His three New York Times best-selling books - Financial Peace, More Than Enough and The Total Money Makeover - have sold more than 6 million copies combined. His latest book is EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.|
Mistakes, Experience, and Good Judgment
You can learn a lot from the wisdom of old men on the front porch of a country store. Uncle Don was known for his down-home wisdom. He wasn’t really my uncle, but he was a good, close family friend. His view of the world was real and kind, and he could solve just about any problem.
I sat down with him one morning long ago and asked where he got his good judgment. He looked at me, and said it came from experience. I asked where he got his experience. He grinned and told me it came from bad judgment.
The vast majority of our mistakes, errors, and even failures are not life-threatening. As a matter of fact, they are what make up good judgment—if you learn from them. I could write several books on the stupid decisions I’ve made. If you read those books, you would laugh. Luckily, I’ve learned a few things from those bad decisions.
First, I’ve learned that none of my dumb ideas were fatal. I had to apologize often, was embarrassed more times than I can count, and even lost money on many occasions. Second, I’ve learned the mistakes that make up experience are teaching tools. If I learn my lesson from the pain, like I should, I’ll never make that mistake again.
I’ve also discovered I’m not the only one who makes stupid mistakes.But this last one may be the best of all. I have learned that successful people respond uniquely to failure.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, befriend, and spent time with some of the world’s most successful people. I’ve had actual hang out time with world-class men and women in business, ministry, music, professional sports, and with authors who’ve sold millions of books. Interestingly, when you get to know them you realize they’ve all had colossal failures. They’ve failed big and often. None of them rocketed to the top without lots of bumps and bruises.
So, what makes them superhuman? They’re all talented and bright, but there are lots of talented and bright people who never “make it.” Their secret seems to be that they embrace their mistakes and failures as part of the learning process on the road to the top. They realize the only way to the top is through course corrections after they stumble. So, they stumble, they fail—they smile while they’re doing it—but in the end we call them winners. They may even make more mistakes than the average person, but they choose to own their mistakes instead of becoming overwhelmed by them.
As it turns out, that gleaming mountain of success is just a pile of failure that you are standing on instead of lying under.
Get it? You get to decide how you’re going to react to your mistakes and your stumbles. Just as important, you get to say that momentary failures are just glitches and not your identity. So, are you going to learn from your failures and mistakes, and stand on them so you have a better view and are better prepared for the challenges ahead? Or, are you going to just lay under them and give in?
The choice is yours!
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