Just like so many others around me, I have been struggling with my relationship with mistakes (as reflected in this, this, and this post). The beacons lighting the way to a better me become major obstacles to my development when they are seen as negative feedback.
Taking the time to observe a baby at play is quite a revelation. Have you ever taken the time to watch quietly while a baby played? I mean, really watched, like, for hours on end. I have been doing that lately and it has hit me time and again: we are all born with a healthy relationship with mistakes. They are a constant source of feedback that helps us achieve what we want to achieve. A baby trying to reach for a toy doesn’t give up; he might make sounds of frustration, but again and again, he tries, taking the time between each try to consider what has happened that he didn’t get the toy, and adjusting his approach.
Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t; as one obstacle is surmounted, another appears. And yet the baby, despite being sometimes quite vocal about the frustration that can be felt in the face of not achieving one’s goal, keeps trying and ultimately, achieved joyous victory.
The Take Away
This is what I want my relationship to be with the process of working towards a goal. I want to never even consider giving up; I want to vent my frustration and then go at it again, informed from my previous unsuccessful attempts.
Another important thing that I have learned from watching babies at play is this: that if you are constantly distracted from achieving your goal, you are not going to be able to put in the time and effort necessary. When I brought this back to my own life, I realised that behind every unmet goal was a distraction.
It makes the pursuit of a voluntarily simple life all the more important. I was talking to a very wise friend of mine who told me she had questioned everything she did in the pursuit of a simple life focused on achieving three goals: having a strong marriage, raising three healthy children, and serving the community. She told me that by time-tracking everything she did for a few years, she came to realise that she wasted on average three hours a day on things that ultimately served no purpose within the framework of the life she wanted to lead.
So let’s learn from the babies around us; let’s simplify our lives as much as we can, stay focused on our goals, and take the feedback from all our attempts and channel them into refining our approach until we make it.