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The Power of Mistakes

posted Feb 28, 2016, 12:25 PM by Julie Mayhew   [ updated Feb 28, 2016, 12:32 PM ]
I heard a great story not so long ago. It seems that an executive for an international company was in charge of a
project that turned out to be an abysmal failure. When the numbers came in, he learned that his error in judgment
had cost the company almost five million dollars. He went immediately to the CEO and handed in a letter of
resignation. The CEO said, “Why would I let you resign? I just invested five million dollars in your education!”

I don’t know if the story is true, but I love it. It says so much about the power of mistakes. Anyone who has ever 
tried and failed at snowboarding, or baking a cheesecake, or assembling a piece of electronic equipment knows that there is so much to be learned from mistakes...far more than we learn by reading about it, or being told how to do 
it, or having it done for us.

Often in our world we hear mistakes referred to as something bad, and something to be avoided. How unfortunate!
We significantly limit our learning if we are afraid to risk a mistake—and how boring life would be if we only did
whatwe already knew we could do, just so we didn’t make a mistake! As parents and teachers, we have many
opportunities to teach our children about the value of mistakes and to model perseverance. At Levy, we embrace
mistakes as proof that we are trying, and weview them not as failures, but as important steps on the journey to
deeper understanding and greater success. The only “failure” in a mistake is not learning from it and trying again.

After all, in the words of the great French post-Impressionist Paul Gaugin, “Between the failure and the 
masterpiece, the distance is one millimeter.”

Julie Mayhew
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