Limited Ideas Entertained(3): Mistakes are Failures

Limited Ideas Entertained(3): Mistakes are Failures

You’re being lied to. Constantly. Sometimes by yourself. We are all subject to an endless stream of misinformation about our constraints to our capabilities, and we receive this information so often that most of us have no other choice but to believe it. The problem is that these messages directly oppose your quest to become limitless.

According to Jim Kiwk, there are 7 Limited Ideas Entertained (LIEs) in our minds that can stall us or steer us in a direction we don’t want.  In the following posts, we will examine these LIEs, demystify the myths behind them and expose ourselves to the truth we should rather believe.

Mistakes are Failures

These days when many people think of Einstein, they think of brilliance and all the intellectual feats he achieved. Yes, the guy was all that – He did more to further the scientific field in general – and physics in particular – than any other scientist of our time. His discoveries are literal bedrocks and have made possible some of our most modern-day technology.

With such a reputation, it would be easy to assume that Einstein rarely made mistakes – but that is far from the truth – let us take a peek at history books.

To begin with, his development was described as “slow,” and he was considered to be a below-average student. It was apparent from an early age that his way of thinking and learning was different from the rest of the students in his class. He liked working out the more complicated problems in math, for example, but wasn’t very good at the “easy” problems.

Later on, in his career, Einstein made simple mathematical mistakes that appeared in some of his most important work. His numerous mistakes include seven major gaffes on each version of his theory of relativity, mistakes in clock synchronization related to his experiments, and many mistakes in the math and physics calculations used to determine the viscosity of liquids.

Was Einstein considered a failure because of his mistakes?


Most importantly did he let his mistakes stop him?

No, he did not.

He kept experimenting and making contributions to his field. He is famously quoted as having said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

What’s more, no one remembers him for his mistakes—we only remember him for his contributions.

So why then do we fear mistakes so much?

Is it possible that it could have been ingrained? As school children, we were judged by our mistakes and the number of mistakes we make on a given test or exam determines whether we fail or pass.

Mistakes are not often used as a tool for learning; they are used as a way of measuring one’s capabilities and this unfortunately has formed a set of limiting beliefs in most of us.

We need to change that. Too many of us don’t come close to our capacities because we are too afraid of making a mistake. Instead of looking at mistakes as proof of failure, take them as proof that you are trying – like a friend of mind normally says – Progression not perfection because here’s the truth:

Mistakes don’t mean failure. Mistakes are a sign that you are trying something new.

Mistakes don’t mean failure. Mistakes are a sign that you are trying something new.
Mistakes don’t mean failure. Mistakes are a sign that you are trying something new.

You might think you have to be perfect, but life is not about comparing yourself to anyone else; it’s about measuring yourself compared to who you were yesterday. When you learn from your mistakes, they have the power to turn you into something better than you were before. Also, remember that you are not your mistakes. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that you’re inherently worthless, but you make mistakes; mistakes don’t make you. Place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise to the next level. It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we deal with them that defines us.

So next time you make a mistake, instead of dwelling on the mistake, beating or berating yourself over it, ask yourself the golden question – What did I learn from this? – and what measures I need to put in place to ensure that this mistake does not repeat itself going forward.

New belief: There is no such thing as failure. Only failure to learn.

There is no such thing as failure. Only failure to learn.
There is no such thing as failure. Only failure to learn.

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