Do you know that one friend you have? You know the one who’s always citing things that are obviously not accurate. Things that a two-minute search on Snopes or Google can disprove? Well, unfortunately, I have that friend, and on rare occasion I AM that friend. I wish it weren’t so, but sometimes my mouth gets ahead of me; like the time I bought into the ‘Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal with full sleeve tattoos – that’s why he has to wear that long sleeve sweater’ rumor. Below are two reasons why it’s healthy to look like a dumb ass sometimes:
1) The feeling of being humbled pushes you to grow.
Now as a general rule of thumb, I prefer not to embarrass myself like this, especially when I’m actually hoping to share something interesting. Nonetheless, it was a good opportunity to reflect on exactly how this happened. I’m happy to say that the pain of looking naive forced me to grow from the experience and validate information more closely before adopting it. Now when I’m tempted to say something that sounds a little hard to believe, there is a little voice reminding me. The world is full of rumors and stories, and I should check this shit out before I go repeating it like it’s a fact. I’m better for it.
Do you know the saying “A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others”? Well, unfortunately, we’re not always the ‘wiser man’ in this saying. One of the best tools human beings have for learning is failure or making mistakes. Men especially can be binary creatures, re-writing the boundaries of our limitation by success and failure, pain and pleasure, positive and negative feedback.
Self-reflection caused by the pain of a mistake forces us to become better than we were before. This is why it’s not healthy to go through life with a ‘no regrets’ type of attitude. Regret is healthy and at the cornerstone of change. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”. –Winston Churchill.
Acknowledgement of the pain of making mistakes, whether they be social, financial or physical, is what ensures we don’t make them again. To pretend like they never happened is to guarantee we’ll never advance and grow in life.
2) Sometimes a mistake happens because you had an inaccurate estimation of your abilities.
This can be especially bad for people because capable people frequently come from the opposite path – a path of struggle, failure, and pressure that forms them into diamonds.
The quote “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” by Will Rogers seems relevant here.
Now I’m not talking about people who have already put in the work, training, and struggled to become great at their craft. I’m not talking about the people who have an accurate estimation of their abilities in sports, business, or human interaction. I’m talking about just the opposite.
These people can only go on telling themselves that they are great because they have not tested themselves against reality, creating a self-reinforcing problem. This allows them to keep telling themselves dangerous and annoying things like:
‘This won’t happen to me because I’m smarter than (insert anyone)’.
‘I don’t need to research what I’m saying because I’m always right.’
Not acknowledging, even to yourself, when you’re wrong doesn’t come across as smoothly as you think. It lets your ego grow unchecked to a dangerous place.
Humility makes you proceed cautiously, realistically, and with better chances of success than relying on baseless confidence that is not based in reality. So next time you screw something up, get embarrassed, or just say something horrifyingly stupid, embrace it. It means you’re on the road to a more competent you, even if it may not feel like it at the time.
After all, failure is the best teacher.
Want to get really clear about what makes you happy? Here are 15 things that work for me, and maybe you too.