Everybody makes mistakes every day. Some mistakes people make are minor; some can affect the rest of your life.
A wonderful quote from the recently deceased Muhammad Ali says it quite succinctly:
I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”
In essence, just because you make a mistake, that doesn’t mean you are not capable of having a positive influence on someone, or even yourself. If you learn from a mistake you made, it’s not in vain. You can use it for good and make the future better.
Why We Make Mistakes
People make mistakes all the time. I make mistakes several times a day. How often do you make a mistake? If you say not very often, you’re probably not being honest with yourself (that’s a mistake).
Most mistakes people make are not really mistakes. You didn’t accidentally rear-end that car on the highway. You tell yourself it was a mistake but, in reality, you make the decision to be scrolling through your Facebook feed rather than paying attention to the traffic around you.
Science backs this up. A study from Princeton University discovered the brain is able to process information correctly but struggles when that information contains errors, or “noise.”
Your desire to flip through Facebook is the noise that made it so your brain could not react quick enough when the driver in front of you hit his brakes.
We make mistakes, in most cases, because we choose to take a particular course of action.
Focusing on the proper action will enable you to keep from making those “mistakes.”
Mistakes People Make at the Beginning of Each Day
Now that we briefly touched on the “noise that causes us to make mistakes, let’s look at some mistakes people make on a daily basis. Most importantly, we are going to look at mistakes made in the morning, before people even leave for work.
There is some credence to be given to starting the day off right.
We say often, when someone is in a bad mood, that he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. The side of the bed may not particularly matter but other things that person did in the morning certainly had an effect on his mood the rest of the day. Let’s look at nine mistakes people make each day:
1. Hit the Snooze Button
Raise your hand if you’ve ever hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off in the morning. Yep, we all have at some point. This is a mistake we make that causes a ripple the rest of the day.
If you set your alarm, get up when it goes off. I know sometimes that is easier said than done. Sometimes you just feel like you need a little more sleep. I’ve been there too…far too often.
I’ve realized, however, that my days go much better when I wake up with my alarm. Have you noticed that too?
There are several things you can do each night that will help you improve your sleep so you feel rested when your alarm goes off in the morning.
2. Leave the Bed Unmade
Productivity experts will tell you to make your bed first thing every morning and it will increase your productivity for the day. It is partially based on having good habits that lead to success. It is also partially because it’s a simple productive task you can accomplish before anything else.
Leave your bed unmade and you won’t have that first “small win” in the morning. Make it and start the day off right.
Here is an article with 24 reasons why you should make your bed everyday.
3. Wait until Morning to Iron and Choose Your Clothes
4. Don’t Rehydrate
5. Deprive Your Body of Proper Nutrition
Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It certainly can be if that’s what you believe. Regardless, depriving your body of the nutrition it will need to conquer the day is a huge mistake people make frequently.
You don’t have to have a huge breakfast to provide your body the nutrition it deserves. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time either.
A quick and easy way I get my nutrition is by making a smoothie. A little almond milk, avocado, kale, frozen berries, hemp protein and almond butter and I’m good to go.
Many days though I don’t even have a smoothie in the morning. More often than not, I choose to start my day with a concentration of healthy fats instead. It’s become pretty popular now but I follow Dave Asprey’s basic recipe for Bulletproof coffee. You can find his recipe here.
If you don’t want to take the time to blend the butter into the coffee, you can just use straight grass fed butter. It won’t be as good and you’ll have to stir your coffee continually, but it will still work.
6. Leave the House with No Time to Spare
You’ve planned everything perfectly and you should make it to work right at starting time. Perfect…until an accident backs up traffic so bad that you’ll be 30 minutes late.
Leaving the house with just the right amount of time to make it to work is a rookie mistake. Leave early. Give yourself some extra time.
When traffic backs up and you still have plenty of time to make it into work, you’ll keep from getting stressed and ruining the most productive hours of the work day.
The solution is simple: Leave for work earlier than you need to.
7. Not Expressing Gratitude
Brian Tracy, the great sales trainer, speaker and author says, “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
Don’t just be grateful for the big wins and successes in life. Be grateful for the apparent small things in life such as waking up in the morning, having a reliable vehicle to drive and the love of your family.
When you get to the point that you always have an attitude of gratitude, your days will be filled with so much more joy. You will encounter less stress and be less stressful to others.
8. Get Upset with Traffic
People that have a high level of inner peace, do not worry about the things they can’t control. In fact, they don’t even worry much about the things they can control.
Instead, they let the things they can’t control just happen. It doesn’t get them too worked up.
Imagine being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work in the morning. You hear on the radio that there is a multi-car accident a few miles up ahead of you on the highway. What are your thoughts?
Are you worried about being late and how inconvenient it is for you?
Or, are you grateful it’s not you in the accident and you say a prayer for those involved?
Use the extra time you have by yourself to your advantage. Spend the time praying, meditating or simply sitting in peace. You can’t control the traffic but you can control how you react to it.
9, Arrive at Work Right on Time
The final mistake people make before they get to work each day is getting to work exactly on time. The mistake is not understanding what it means to be on work in time.
If your shift begins at 8 a.m., you should be in position ready to work at 8 a.m., not strolling in the front door of the building at 8 a.m. Arrive early enough that you can have your cup of coffee in-hand and computer booted up before it’s time to start.
Your employer pays you for your full effort the entire day. Give the company what it pays you for. Besides, arriving early will reduce the possibility of stress due to traffic or other inconveniences in the morning.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Mistakes are like this too. It’s typically okay to make a mistake one time (even though as we learned at the beginning it really wasn’t a mistake, it was a choice). Don’t repeat your mistakes though.
As Will Smith’s character Hitch says in the self-titled movie, “Begin every day as if it were on purpose.”
Have a plan for each morning and be intentional about everything you do. Don’t be so rigid that you add stress but do things on purpose. When you are intentional about living your life for yourself, you will make fewer mistakes, be happier and more successful.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was recently released in movie theaters. It has set all sorts of box office records already and will continue selling an unprecedented amount of tickets. Because of the success of this iconic franchise, I figured there had to be some career lessons we can learn from these movies.
Achieving success in your career will not come without ups and downs. Some days success will seem eminent. Other days, it will seem impossible.
One tenet of career success is having an open mind; a willingness to learn — from any source. Any source can even mean fictional movies with make-believe characters.
Following are 4 career lessons we can learn from Star Wars:
Your Impact Can Be Great
George Lucas set the bar high when Episode IV was released in 1977. Before it’s release, the critics were not very positive about the movie. George Lucas knew, however, his movies would have a great impact on people.
He wasn’t trying to win best picture. Instead, he wanted to impact people by entertaining them. And that is what he did.
When I was making Star Wars, I wasn’t restrained by any kind of science. I simply said, ‘I’m going to create a world that’s fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.’
For almost 40 years now, the Star Wars franchise has appealed to the masses by entertaining them.
Your impact on the world can also be great because you are great. You are an expert in something and it’s your duty to share that expertise with the world.
Just like Star Wars, you can start small, i.e., the first movie, and start providing value. After you make a small impact with your small start, you can leverage that into having a bigger and better impact on others.
It Takes a Team to Win
Han Solo had a partner in Chewbacca. Luke Skywalker relied on R2-D2 when he crashed on Dagobah. They each had someone to rely on.
In fact, though, it took the entire Rebel force to win. Each of the primary characters in Star Wars had special talents that supported the entire team.
The most successful people in history have learned they can’t achieve success by themselves. It takes teams of people with different talents and abilities to achieve success.
You may like working with others who have your same mindset and tendencies because it is comfortable. If you do that for too long, you’ll realize you are getting nowhere fast because you don’t have every ability you’ll need.
It takes a team of people to make a lasting difference in the world. Isn’t that what you want to achieve through your career?
When Yoda told Luke Skywalker, in The Empire Strikes Back, to raise his crashed fighter from the swamp, Luke responded with “Alright, I’ll give it a try.” Yoda, responds with my favorite movie line of all time.
“No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.”
We need to heed Yoda’s advice in everything we do. Saying we will try is limiting our abilities. Trying shows a reservation of doubt of our abilities. We need to just do.
Take this one step further into the religious realm. Jesus, in Matthew 5:37 tells his listeners to answer simply with a “Yes” or “No.” Any other answer than that, He says, comes from the evil one.
In your career, believe you have great abilities and you will accomplish great things. When someone asks you to do something, say “Yes” or “No,” instead of “I’ll try” or “Maybe.”
You are only as good as you believe you are.
It’s Okay to Fail
Darth Vader did not tolerate mistakes of any kind. He expected his followers within the Empire to be perfect. If they made a mistake, he would use the Force to choke them to death.
Hopefully you don’t work for a boss like that.
The Rebel Alliance, however, made many mistakes and lost many battles. That did not cause them to give up or turn on one another. They continued pressing on toward their goal.
We need to do the same thing in our jobs and careers, in fact, in all aspects of our lives.
We’ve all made mistakes and had setbacks but that doesn’t mean we should quit.
Children fail all the time. They fall when they try to walk. They fall when they ride a bike. Imagine if they stopped getting back up and doing it again. We adults forgot how to learn.
We need to remember the importance of learning from failure.
The most important of the career lessons we can learn from Star Wars is…
So far, the Star Wars series has spanned a period of almost 40 years. That’s amazing.
Few movie franchises have been able to survive over that long of a period, much less with as much fanfare as Star Wars continues to have. The only other one I can think of is the James Bond franchise.
Your career is the same. You shouldn’t expect to reach the corner office within the first year in your career. It’s going to take time. Lots of time.
Be patient as your career evolves. Reaching success too quickly would most likely have one of two results: immediate overwhelm or boredom.
Instead of being impatient with your career and always hoping/looking for something more, enjoy each step of your journey.
A career is a journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Question for you: What other career lessons have you learned from any of the Star Wars movies?
For each of the last three years, I’ve asked you to describe your year in one word. While you can’t encompass an entire year’s worth of activities, feelings and experiences into one word, it can help you simplify your daily routine and allow you to focus on what’s most important to you.
The individual words I’ve used to describe those respective years have been:
2013 – Intentional
What have your words been?
When I look back at those years, I believe I’ve been able to live that year with a focus on that one word. In no way am I saying those years were perfect. They were far from it. But, I made strides in all aspects of my life because of the focus on that word for the year.
We can’t live by our past accomplishments. We should always be improving our lives, one day at a time.
We should, however, relish our past experiences, learn from them and make changes going forward to hopefully not make the same mistakes but to improve on our successes.
Describe the past year in one word
When you look back at 2015, did it live up to your expectations? Did you accomplish what you had hoped?
If not, why didn’t you? Was it because of things out of your control or was it because you didn’t have a consistent focus each day of the year? Maybe it was both.
Did you set a word at the beginning of 2015 to guide you through the year? If not, that’s okay. Don’t dwell on it. Learn from it.
Describe your year in one word
For 2016, what word will you use to focus each day? You can describe your year in one word. What will it be?
Maybe it’s something related to work, personal relationships or spirituality. If you can find one word to describe every aspect of your life in 2016, use that. If not, you could pick separate words to describe each aspect of your life.
After you choose your word, take a piece of paper and write it at the top. Then, write ways your can apply that to every aspect of your life. Keep that paper with you at all times. Maybe keep it in your wallet or your purse.
Look at it often to remind yourself of your goals for the year.
My word to describe all aspects of 2016 is going to be “consistent.”
I believe by being consistent at work, with my family and friends, with God and with myself, that I will achieve great things in 2016.
If you catch me not being consistent during the year, please call me out on it. I know I won’t be perfect but that doesn’t mean I won’t strive for perfection.
Question for you: How will you describe your year in one word?
We all make mistakes. Some people make mistakes more frequently than others. Some mistakes are bigger than others.