Stumbling to Success

RL02-03-2016I’ve heard it said that success is a matter of avoiding mistakes. While this seems like good advice, it’s not strictly accurate. Successful people make their share of mistakes. They simply manage them.

I believe that a fool makes the same mistake over and over while a wise person makes a new mistake every day.

The goal should be to learn from every mistake, not necessarily to avoid them. The best way to learn from a mistake is to learn from someone else’s mistake. If you will observe world-class golfers in championship tournaments, you will see them squat down behind their ball as it is setting on the green so they can judge the undulations and breaks of the surface between their golf ball and the hole. Really great golfers not only observe the greens surrounding their own shots, but they observe their opponent’s ball as it rolls toward the hole. This is called “going to school” on your opponent. If the green has an unexpected break, causing a putt to curve one way or the other more than expected, it is far better to learn from your opponent’s shot than from your own.

All of us make mistakes. Unsuccessful people call this failure while successful people call it fertilizer. It may not be pleasant at the time, but it can help your dreams grow into reality in the future.

Great ideas are generally inspired by mistakes, challenges, or problems. If you go through your daily routine and wait for something bad to happen, you have the potential of a great idea. All you need to do is ask yourself the critical question, “How could I have avoided that?” The answer to that question is a great idea. All you have to do to have a great business is ask yourself one further question, “How could I help other people avoid that?” The answer to this second question is a great business opportunity.

The world will give you fame, fortune, and acclaim if you will simply recognize and solve other people’s problems.

Mistakes are a part of the human condition. Maturity comes when we learn from our mistakes and resolve to not repeat them. I have always appreciated the great line sung by Billy Joel. “I am the entertainer. I had to pay my price. The things I did not know at first, I learned by doing twice.” The great lessons of life come to us disguised as problems, challenges, and mistakes.

As you go through your day today, learn from each mistake, and don’t repeat it.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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