You can learn a lot from the wisdom of old men on the front porch of a country store. They always wear their hats at a backward angle that says, “I’m friendly, but I’m studying you.” Where I come from, a hat down low over your eyes says, “Watch out . . . anger here.”
Ole Uncle Don was known for his down-home wisdom. He wasn’t really my uncle, but close family friends in the South are given the designation “Uncle.” His view of the world was real, kind and problem-solving . . . he had “Good Judgment.”
I sat down in the rocking chair next to him in the morning sunshine and asked him, “Uncle Don, where did you get Good Judgment?”
He said, “Experience.”
“So where did you get Experience?”
“Bad Judgment,” he said and smiled, spitting some tobacco juice.
Turns out mistakes, errors, even failures are not life-ending. As a matter of fact, they are what make up Good Judgment . . . IF you learn from them.
I could write several books on the stupid decisions I’ve made. If you read those books, you would laugh at this poor, stupid failure of a person. But I’ve learned a couple of things about my stupid decisions that led to so much pain and so many failures.
First, I’ve learned that none of my dumb ideas were fatal. I didn’t die. I had to apologize, was often embarrassed, more often lost money, but I didn’t die.
Second, I’ve learned that the mistakes that make up Experience are teaching tools. If I learn my lesson from the pain, I never make THAT mistake again.
Third, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who makes stupid mistakes. Turns out everyone does. (If you meet someone who’s error-free, get away from them—they’re a liar.) Some people just learn from their mistakes and some people stay stuck in a rut, making the same dumb decision over and over and thinking things will change. See #2.
Fourth—and this is the best one—I’ve learned that successful people uniquely respond to failure. I’ve been blessed in my life, and one of the blessings is that I have met, befriended, and spent time with some of the world’s most successful people. I’ve had actual hang time with world-class men and women in business, ministry, music, professional sports, and with authors who’ve sold millions of books.
These people are the cat’s meow, the big dogs on the porch (though they probably don’t mix cat and dog metaphors). They’re in the spotlight. If I mentioned any of their names, you’d know them. Interestingly, when you get to know them, they are all colossal failures. They’ve failed big and often. None of them rocketed to the top without bumps or bruises.
So what makes them superhuman? Well, truthfully, they’re all talented and bright, but there are lots of talented and bright people who never “make it.” And everyone fails. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone gets embarrassed sometime. So, what’s in the secret sauce?
These with the secret sauce seem to embrace their mistakes and failures as learning the map to the top. They see the only way to the top is course correction from stumbles. So, they stumble more, fail more, smile while they’re doing it, and we call them winners. They make more mistakes than the average person, only they choose to stand on top of their mistakes.
It turns out the gleaming mountain of success is just a pile of failure that you are standing on instead of laying under.
I almost decided that because I had failed that my new name was “Failure.” But I am not a failure. And you are not a failure. You just failed. Well, welcome to being human.
I had to tell those sad, toxic voices in my head to shut up. I was tired of hearing those tapes playing.
But I get to decide how I’m going to react to my stumbles, mistakes, bruises, regrets, hurts and stupidity. And you get to say to yourself that this problem is an event not your identity.
So, next time you do like me and wonder if you have what it takes . . .
Next time you hear those voices that we all hear about how dumb that idea was . . .
Next time those voices try to convince you that because you failed you are a failure . . .
Are you going stand on your failures and mistakes so you have a better view, or are you going to lay under them and be destroyed?
It truly is a simple decision. It simply is proper perspective.
It’s Good Judgment.
And where does Good Judgment come from?
Where does Experience come from?
Wise ole Uncle Don has Good Judgment. My successful friends have Good Judgment. I’ve got Good Judgment. And you’ve got Good Judgment.
Now admit it, and stand on the past, don’t lay under it.