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“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.” — Coleman Hawkins

“Do it right the first time”

How many times I heard that drilled into me as I grew up.

My mother believed that it was the correct use of time to do a job right the first time. Not succeeding the first time was failure.

She expected when she gave instructions, they were to complied with exactly. If the outcome was not what she expected, then it was my failure. I failed to follow her instructions. No matter how careful I may have been or how exact I was.

The number one rule that had to be always remembered, mother was not always right, but she was never ever wrong. No matter what.

She instilled a strong sense of shame about failure. It wasn’t about only the task, it was about my ability, or lack thereof.

Doing a job over was usually made under a quite literal threat of physcial harm if not done fast enough. Best read her mind to know her wishes, spoken and unspoken.

Do not argue, do not suggest. You will be wrong.

Took me a very long time to start to shake off the sense of impending doom when something I was doing didn’t work out. It was when I started to embrace the mantra “Shit happens” that I finally started to relax about failures.

Because, shit happens, right?

Then I had to be careful not to let myself relax to the point I wouldn’t bother to try again. Over time, I learned to give something a hard look, try to figure out what went wrong and how to try a different approach.

Sometimes, I do have to bring the hard look around to realize, the concept is not going to succeed. Try a different concept or move on.

Because, shit happens, right?

Feeling good about more than one try on a task leads to a sense of accomplishment when success happens.

It is liberating to learn making mistakes is how to determine how not to solve a problem. Learning all the wrong ways to do something, makes remembering the right way a whole lot easier.

Thinking skills engage when analyzing the cause of the mistake. Finding new ways to do the task calls on more thinking skills and often creativity. I have also found I’m more comfortable adapting to situations. Adapting becomes more like course adjustments than course changes.

Because, shit happens, right?

Think of problem solving like an adventure. Making mistakes is all part of the path to discovery and the victory of solving the problem.

In so many ways, problem solving becomes a fun journey. The destination becomes less the focus than how to get there and how many paths to travel to find the right one.

Because, shit happens, right?