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January 1, 2017   |   Jim Langley

The Mistakes We Make

The mistakes we make out of passion, including those in defense of our integrity, may provoke the wrath of the powerful or the ire of the insecure. They may lead to significant setbacks in our careers yet the reputations we continue to build as passionate, principled professionals will create more opportunities than even our most powerful critics can quash.

The mistakes we make out of a lack of preparation, be they born of smugness or laziness, will disappoint those we serve, or those who believed in us, but they can be overcome if we acknowledge them quickly, pledge to do better, and deliver on our promise.

The mistakes we make out of vanity trip us up many times, and sometimes cause us to fall hard, but we – and our wounded pride – will survive if we learn to laugh at ourselves rather than make excuses or blame others. And, if we laugh often and long enough, we develop humility, the gateway to wisdom.

The mistakes we make out of all things small – envy, resentment, or spite – may never affect our careers; they might even advance them. Yet, they will gnaw at our self-esteem, even as we sleep, no matter how we rationalize them. They will cause people of character to lose confidence in us, the very people who are most apt to stay with us when we make mistakes of passion, sloth or pride and, who, had we stayed true to ourselves, would have continued to open doors for us for the remainder of our lives.

I know, because I’ve made them all.

Yet, I have learned that when we stay reasonably true to ourselves and to others over several decades, we redeem the mistakes we made along the way and become known as people of substance who are then afforded the immense privilege of opening doors for those in whom we believe, notwithstanding their occasional mistakes.

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