Learning to celebrate mistakes


Mistakes can catch us by surprise

The excitement of planning for a trip can be contagious. This is definitely true in my house, as we love to travel. My family has learned to make trip preparation a fun, creative, and enjoyable experience.

One trip this summer did not go exactly according to plan. The day before the trip, preparations and packing was in full swing and the anticipation was high. Until we realized that we had mistakenly missed our plane, that had left only a few hours earlier.

Chaos ensued. Plan Bs were coming from all directions. Disappointment set in.

I have to confess that I am a recovering perfectionist, so this type of scenario has the potential to push a lot of buttons in me. Gratefully, this time, instead of experiencing the ugly response to button pushing, I experienced an unexplainable peace. It was a simple mistake and I was confident it would play out exactly as it was intended.

The storm passed and a Plan B restored our travel plans. We boarded a plane the next day and arrived at our destination. The mistake was put behind us and we enjoyed an amazing trip.

Mistakes can lead to unexpected surprises

Why am I telling you this story now? You know the mistake that had the potential to push my buttons and wreak havoc in my family? Today I am celebrating it, because it has actually led to one of my longest dreams becoming a reality!

Sounds dramatic, I know (I’m a storyteller, give me a break!)! But it is completely true! A simple and innocent mistake that could have turned ugly, turned surprisingly magnificent.

Airlines are not in the habit of accommodating irresponsible travelers, but I have a cunning and creative husband. Our travel error has now turned into a trip that our family has been talking about since it’s inception. We will get to cross off several long awaited Bucket List items : Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (in person!), the White House, Smithsonian, and several others.

What a wonderful surprise! As I was in the moment of realizing our fatal travel error, I couldn’t have imagined such an incredible outcome. The mistake was a shocking surprise, but the outcome was even more astounding.

The moment our travel error threw us into chaos, I never dreamed that one simple mistake could create such a surprising trajectory. My response to it could certainly have launched it in the opposite trajectory. We could have ended up with hurt feelings, negative memories, ugly words, distrust, and broken relationships.

Our response to mistakes matters

As humans, we desire to plan, to strategize, to forecast, and to prepare. It makes us feel safe and secure. We often live our lives and engage our relationships with the sole purpose of self-preservation and self-protection. We avoid mistakes at all costs.

When mistakes and errors find their way into our lives, we move quickly into solution mode. Our defenses go up, we find who’s to blame, we present solutions, we try to cover it up, we avoid it altogether, or we deny it even happened. But our response to  mistakes, ours and others, really matters to our character.

I will be the first to admit that I am a long way from getting this right. I also realize that I have the unfair advantage of telling you the one story where I got it right, while leaving out the hundreds of others where I responded atrociously! I am learning through trial and error that my character grows each time I respond to mistakes and imperfections with grace. Our response to mistakes matters in our lives and in our relationships.

Rather than avoiding and despising mistakes, we can learn to embrace and enjoy them. Rather than hating imperfections, we can learn to see beautiful possibilities. Rather than allowing mishaps to push our buttons, we can learn to see surprising gifts.  We can learn the profound truth that mistakes lead us down transformational roads we would never chose for ourselves.

I am who I am today because of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. The mistakes of others have also impacted my journey in surprisingly wonderful ways. My closest relationships have been positively deepened by errors along the way.

What mistakes have caught you by surprise? What errors have led to unexpected surprises in your life? How are you currently responding to the imperfections around you?

2 thoughts on “Learning to celebrate mistakes

  1. Well done for getting your attitude right Lisa….this happened to us ona return flight from Oz a few years back and being an over-planner, I reacted in a very bad way and the panic that ensued has probably scarred me for life! Thanks for sharing, this is something that I definitely need to work on.

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