“Anyone who never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”–Albert Einstein
I think it is human nature to want to avoid mistakes. I can remember hating to read aloud in 3rd grade. I would do almost anything to avoid raising my hand. The fear of messing up a word and having a classmate chuckle was paralyzing.
As I matured I began to realize that mistakes are not usually fatal. After I made a mistake I saw that I would still see another sunrise. I found that mistakes weren’t as big a deal as I had originally thought. In fact, not only were mistakes not usually fatal, they actually had the opposite effect in that they showed me the right way of doing something.
Henry Ford said, “Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.” Thomas Edison could have said the same thing, with 1,000 “mistakes” before hitting on the discovery he was seeking. In fact, if it were not for two “mistakes” of business owners, we would not have plastic (used in our everyday lives from cars, computers, and adhesives, lubricants to implantable devices like orthopedic plates, artificial joints and heart valves).
The first plastic “mistake” tale starts in the lab of Charles Goodyear (yes, that Goodyear), who combined rubber and sulfur and accidentally put it on the stove for a period of time. When he came back, he found a tough and durable material–created through a process eventually called vulcanization.
The second plastic “mistake” was a spill in John Wesley Hyatt’s shop. Inspired by a $10,000 contest to find a replacement for elephant ivory in billiard balls, Hyatt accidentally spilled a bottle of collodion, only to discover that when it dried it formed a flexible-yet-strong material. He didn’t win the contest (nor did anyone, for that matter), but by 1872 his brother Isaiah coined the term celluloid to describe what was becoming the first commercially successful plastic–even used in the first motion-picture film used by George Eastman.
One truly harmful mistake is the one that we keep making over and over again. For you see the question isn’t “How many mistakes have you made?” but “How many of the SAME mistakes are you making?” Dr. Joyce Brothers says, “The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top.”
As we begin to build Tama County’s economy, there are going to be mistakes made. The biggest mistake any one of us can make is doing nothing because we are too scared to make a mistake. So my advice; don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself. In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing will not work.