I made a mistake recently. And I learned something interesting from it.
It’s not so much what I learned as far as course correction, or improvement on a process. It was what I learned about making mistakes.
I was working on a wood project but I had realized I no longer had a jig necessary for making dowel joints. It would have been optimal and yielded the best results to use dowels for the joints, but with haste and impatience looking over my shoulder, breathing down my neck and tugging at my shirt tails, I opted for the brad nailer for joining pieces.
Mind you, these pieces are less that 3/4″ wide on all four sides. Using a nailer without having the nail jut out the side of the piece was to take precise and accurate guesswork to get it straight. Needless to say, after close to a dozen jutted nails and gouged wood from their subsequent removal, I disgustedly walked away from my Frankenproject and opted to purchase the dowel jig and start from ground zero.
The minor lesson for me was not to rush through the project and not to be to hasty to start it. Another minor lesson was to not venture into the project until I have what I need to do it right.
The major lesson was to embrace the mistake.
I had taken a moment to reflect on my frustration with the project and all the mistakes I had made. In doing so I wanted to explore why I was frustrated, what was the reason for a mistake to be such an anathema. I wasn’t happy about having to start over. But how can a person waste time? I was on no deadline. This project could be completed at any time. I was annoyed at not being able to use the nailer accurately. Why was I upset about attaining a perfect result using a technique that was inherently prone to error? It bothered me that I was too impatient to start the project rather than wait for the right tools to be in my possession. Does that make me a scumbag? It makes me human.
So often we are overly critical of mistakes… our own mistakes, other’s mistakes. Many times if not most of the times it’s from having marinated our actions in expectations. Expecting that we should be infallible, or super-human. That our mistakes were due to a lack of consideration for ourselves or for others. But in the grand scheme of things it seems the reverse may be more accurate, that we lack consideration for ourselves and others when we don’t allow ourselves and others to make mistakes and have those mistakes.