A New Take on Making Mistakes
I think it would be fair to say my factory settings are, and always have been, ‘trial and error’. I am a well-oiled, mistake-making machine. I’d go so far as to say I am an entire research and development facility, established in the early 90s.
As a radio presenter, I’ve grown to view part of my job as being frank about the more-common-than-you-think misdemeanors we humans endure. I can only hope my public declarations help to nullify any stigma attached to the less glamourous moments of real life. And let’s be honest, we’re all out here trying to do the same thing: find food and take naps.
Sometimes we push when the sign says pull, sometimes we ask if anyone knows the date of May 10th, and occasionally we make the kind of mistake that forces a greater level of inquiry, such as, “how the bleep did I get here?”
When I moved to the Riverland, I had to buy a car. It was the first car I had ever owned and within my first month of owning it I had to make an insurance claim for opening my door into the SUV parked next to me. It was an expensive consequence for getting out of bed that Sunday, but the price tag wasn’t the only souvenir I took from that day.
The experience etched out a learning curve far more profound than just having to cough up my insurance excess. It was a lesson in accountability (I could have easily driven off without so much as a word to the owner of the SUV), self-awareness and organisation. Anyone who has ever had to make an insurance claim will know it’s never just one phone call and being on-hold for such extensive periods got me thinking.
When you are a kid you can get away with doing all kinds of senseless things in the pursuit of navigating your surroundings. It’s all under the guise of ‘learning’. But aren’t we always learning?
I see people berated on social media for making mistakes all the time, from professional athletes to politicians to journalists to people just trying to express themselves after a hard day. Even if you’re not online, it’s difficult to have your process in private anywhere and our expectation for consistent perfection is so high. So high in fact, that sometimes it’s easier to just be fake.
The truth is, you can’t order your mis-steaks rare. They are unavoidable, unpredictable and uncontrollable. A smart chef never blames his pans.
The good news is there comes a certain reprieve in taking stock of your personal calamities. I’d like to think that once we master this, we can apply the same courtesy to others when being bystanders to their blunders.
As I was ticking the final boxes of my insurance fiasco, the lady on the other end of the line told me I was all set and bid me a farewell. Out of instinct I answered, “Thanks, see you soon”. I checked back into planet Earth and followed up with, “Sorry, meant to say thanks and goodbye, what a fail.”
She replied, “No worries, darl. Failure is only an opportunity to begin again. This time, more intelligently.”
Originally published in The Murray Pioneer