How to Keep Your Friendship Alive

•February 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.”
~ Jacques Delille (1738 – 1813) French poet

It’s one thing to start a friendship, it’s quite another to maintain it, to keep it, to stay on what Lewis called “the same secret path.” Even strong friendships require watering or they shrivel up and blow away. That’s why George Bernard Shaw touched an exposed nerve when we read the words he scribbled to his friend Archibald Henderson: “I have neglected you shockingly of late. This is because I have had to neglect everything that could be neglected without immediate ruin, and partly because you have passed into the circle of intimate friends whose feelings one never dreams of considering.”

It’s so easy to take good friends for granted. And in a sense, we should. Like a comfortable pair of gloves, old friends wear well. But friendships that suffer from busyness and overfamiliarity can’t afford to be neglected too long. They need renewal. If you want and need to keep true friendship alive and well, please, consider and think over a list of the most important qualities offered to help you. Probably it will help you to understand why you and your best friend haven’t called up for ages, why you’re getting embarrassed while being asked “Whom are you going to have fun this weekend with?” Like Shaw, you may neglect your intimate friends from time to time, but if you fail to cultivate these qualities—loyalty, forgiveness, honesty, and dedication—you can’t expect to keep true friends.

“Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life” ~ Napoleon Hill

Loyalty

The quality that tops the list in survey after survey of what people appreciate most about their friends is loyalty – support that you always give to someone because of your feelings of duty and love towards them.

Harry Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, caused quite a stir when he visited his friend Alger Hiss in prison. Hiss was a convicted traitor, and it was bad politics to have any association with him. But when prudent politicians condemned Acheson publicly, Acheson simply said, “A friend does not forsake a friend just because he is in jail.” That’s loyalty.

The famous maxim that “a friend in need is a friend indeed” is not the entire story of loyalty, however. A friend in triumph may be even harder to find. Isn’t it easier to be a savior than a cheerleader for our friends? It takes twenty-four-karat loyalty for a friend to soar alongside us when we are flying high rather than to bring us down to earth. Loyal friends not only lend a hand when you’re in need; they applaud your successes and cheer you on without envy when you prosper.

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness

As important as loyalty is, our friendships don’t always have it. Enter forgiveness. Every friend you’ll ever have will eventually disappoint you. Count on it. That doesn’t mean that every offense of a friend requires forgiveness; some slights need only be overlooked and forgotten. Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie, understood this when she said, “Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light.”

Too many good relationships fade because some slight – real or imagined – cancels it out. Some people pout, brood, or blow up if their friend is not speedy enough in returning a phone call or if they are not included in a social event. They set such high standards for the relationship that they’re constantly being disappointed. They can’t let little things go, every minor lapse becomes a betrayal.

By the way, forgiveness is a two-way street. Unless you are a saint, you are bound to offend – intentionally or unintentionally – every friend deeply at least once in the course of time, and if the relationship survives it will be because your friend forgives, the friends we keep the longest are the friends who forgave us the most. And the essence of true friendship is knowing what to overlook.

“No legacy is so rich as honesty”
~ William Shakespeare

Honesty

Honesty is a prerequisite to the true friends’ relationship. “Genuine friendship cannot exist where one of the parties is unwilling to hear the truth,” says Cicero, “and the other is equally indisposed to speak it.” Does this require brutal honesty? Not exactly. It requires honesty that is carefully dealt in the context of respect. In the absence of respect, you see, honesty is a lethal weapon. Perhaps that’s what caused Cicero to add, “Remove respect from friendship and you have taken away the most splendid ornament it possesses.” Honesty is not only expressed in words; it means being authentic.

True friends aren’t afraid to be honest and they aren’t afraid to be themselves. True friends follow Emerson’s advice: “Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo.” Translation: If you are afraid of making enemies, you’ll never have true friends.

“Dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you can give to others” ~ Unknown

Dedication

When was the latest you and your best friend met? Dedication refers to the ability of two people to influence each other’s plans, thoughts, actions, and emotions, to spend time and effort on friendship, to give up something important or valuable for sake of friendship. Think about it.

Back when you are a kid, the hours spent with friends were too numerous to count. Contemporary life, with its tight schedules and crowded appointment books, however, has forced most friendships into something requiring a good deal of intentionally and pursuit just to keep them going.

Of course, dedication becomes most salient in times of crisis. When a friend’s emotional bottoming out, for example, means canceling a date to provide a shoulder of support. That’s what friends are for. So don’t complain about having fair-weather friends if you are unwilling to be inconvenienced.

Personal sacrifice. Selfless devotion. Commitment. These are the noble qualities dedication requires.

My Everything Friend

You magnify my happiness
When I am feeling glad;
You help to heal my injured heart
Whenever I am sad.

You’re such a pleasure in my life;
I hope that you can see
How meaningful your friendship is;
You’re a total joy to me.

By Joanna Fuchs

Dedicated to my Best Friend Arjun Abhirama Kharidehal aka Arjie my Monkey

 


Advertisements

Where Is The Love?

•July 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken — and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived. ~ Margaret Mitchell

Every love affair has it’s lifetime. This that as long as it has a start it has a finish.  Some relationships last to the end of partners lifetime, some die soon after they started.

Love may start as the strongest passion but time passes and the storm of emotions calms down, relationships once so bright and full of surprises become routine. It drags on for a while and than comes crisis. A couple can either survive through it or fall apart.

Even when the love is gone it’s always hard to realise that you have to quit something once so good. There’s no certain way to decrease the sad feelings about falling apart. You may only try to stay civilised people about it and to let the one who’s leaving do it without making up grandiose scandals and hysterics.

Although some think that it’s better to stay enemies than friends because than you will have nothing to regret about and won’t execute meaningless attempts to get things back. But is it so right to ruin all the memories about the happy time two people have spent together with ugly scenes screaming and blaming each other in the worst sins?

It’s over when it’s over and sometimes it’s obvious that all is over. Two people scream and shout one at the other almost everyday, they have nothing to talk about and if they do every conversation turns into a quarrel, one finds faults with everything the other does, they both simply annoy each other. That’s definitely the end.

The question is where the love’s gone. Nobody knows it. Maybe they’ve been spending too much time together and finally have started to bore each other. Maybe he has stopped telling her about his love and she has stopped feeling it. Maybe time has made the illusions disappear and the reality has turned to be not what they both expected. Maybe there was only passion and after it’s gone nothing has left. There can be plenty of those maybes. Every misfortune has it’s own face. It may even be that nothing is over but people need to take a little rest one from the other or try to diversify their relationships. In fact when each one of a couple is willing to fight to make love stay they’ll find the way to do it.

Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~ Kahlil Gibran

The real tragedy is when one still feels the love but the other is bored and wants to leave. If the feeling is really gone no tricks will help to keep the partner, sooner or later he or she will finally leave and those few more weeks together won’t make you happier. The only thing you can really do in this case is to try to get over him/her as soon as possible. That misery will pass as the happiness did.

Sometimes (and it specially refers to women) a man looses his interest to a woman because she has given up her job, interests, friends and etc. in order to become the part of his life, to be everything he needs. He doesn’t have to conquer her no more, she has stopped being a personality with her own life that he had once fallen in love with. If fact this is one of the general mistakes people do. They get too comfortable and stop fighting for each others love. And than when a partner starts packing bags they wonder where did I go wrong.

But still in very many cases lost love isn’t anyone’s fault. It is just the way things go. We should never stop believing that next time the feeling will be real and will finally last to the very end. We have no limit of times that we can fall in love and so although it’s sad to loose love, each time we do we should try to look at it as on the chance to find a new better one.

Love is magic

•April 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Love is strong yet delicate.
It can be broken.
To truly love is to understand this.
To be in love is to respect this.
~Stephen Packer ~

Some say that we are born to love and that love is the meaning and the aim of our lives. Many people believe that it’s a divine magical power that connects two loving hearts. For ages people have been thinking of what love is, writing books and song about love, in the recent time – shooting movies all on the same topic. All religions would say that God teaches us to love each other, the most skeptical materialists would blame it all on the chemical processes and hormones, romantic people would stand for the theory that each of us has his or her half on the Earth. Whatever love really is – the humanity definitely loves it.

Love is opposite to selfishness, because it’s always heading to some other person but you. It’s the highest point of human’s relations development. One voluntary gives up a great part of his/her own freedom. Love is giving by it’s nature. Person feels satisfaction and happiness not from receiving but from and seeing one happy. Two individuals completing one another form some spiritual union in which one is happy because the other’s is happy and one knows that he or she loves because he or she knows he/she would do anything it takes to make the other.

Love has it’s magical power to overcome all troubles, heal illnesses, create wonders. In critical life situations it gives people the strength to survive, to hold on however tough the living gets. And it all comes from the knowledge that you’re not alone in this world.

But everyone should mind that love arises not between angels but between people with all their little sins and flows. So the mistakes, problems and conflicts in love are in fact normal, they all come from our human’s nature. But the clear feeling of love is worth all the troubles one has to walk through to gain it. As we know Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same thing with love. There’s not any perfect art of loving. It’s always a road laid with  compromises, everyday battle – not with the one you love, but with yourself. That’s how love makes us better. For everyone this way is personal. You can never predict how the relationships will develop but it’s in your ability to make it better.

If you have much, give of your wealth; If you have little, give of your heart ~Arab Proverb~

Some say that love lives free years, other theory gives love one more year, some don’t give it any chance. Very many people believe that a family is a grave of love. So the negative prognoses are plenty. But still there stay some true believers. And deep in the heart many of us would like to believe and do believe in love. Because it has some magic in it and all the attempts to explain and to define it are failures.

Love makes clever people loose their mind and silly ones it makes genius. Love is paradoxical in very many aspects. There are statements that love is always happiness even when it’s unhappy and at the same time  that there’s both nothing worse and nothing better than it. Another variant is that you never lived till you loved, and that love is the key to life and the sense of it. We may cite very many sayings and examples. They all are true and none is final. In one thing we can be sure: one who loves sees the world in the different way when all others, things look brighter, birds sing louder, life shows itself in it’s completeness.

Love is like magic
And it always will be.
For love still remains
Life’s sweet mystery!!
Love works in ways
That are wondrous and strange
And there’s nothing in life
That love cannot change!!
Love can transform
The most commonplace
Into beauty and splendor
And sweetness and grace.
Love is unselfish,
Understanding and kind,
For it sees with its heart
And not with its mind!!
Love is the answer
That everyone seeks…
Love is the language,
That every heart speaks.
Love can’t be bought,
It is priceless and free,
Love, like pure magic,
Is life’s sweet mystery!!
~Helen Steiner Rice ~

A Poem For A Special Someone

•April 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You are my inspiration
having you in my life
revived my sleeping devotion
You are indeed a special someone

Loving you gives me hope
to free this misery that I coped
in those times I gave up
You came and I stood up

Never will I forget
how you always cheer me up
every time I’m sad
and for that I’m glad

Whenever I’m lonely
You were there for me
keeping my heart alive
with your every smile

I dedicate this poem to you
to show how much you meant
to me I love you
My special someone



Peo.ple & Re.la.tion.ships

•April 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is ATTITUDE.” ~Wiiliam James~

Relationship is defined as a state of connectedness between people. Although in today’s society with its crazy rhythm of everyday life, when people tend to live in densely populated megapolises, spending most of their time in the office and hardly knowing their neighbor’s name, we still find ourselves in some kind of a relationship – with friends, family, or colleagues.

Family relationships are the first people’s relationships to enter into. Parents and relatives influence our emotional development by creating a model that we are sometimes bound to follow all our life, often subconsciously. People who have grown up in large happy families usually feel more emotionally secure than those, whose parents had gone through a divorce. For sure you know quite a few attractive and successful women who remain single for some ‘mysterious’ reason. They often turn out to be victims of their past. Deep inside they cannot overcome the fear of being abandoned, that comes from their childhood, when one or both of their parents left them or just did not pay enough attention. A well-established young man can be scared of a commitment in a relationship as his parents’ family model failed to convince him that getting married makes one happy.

In daycare, at school, then in the office we spend a lot of time among fellow students and coworkers. We learn to maintain business relationships, to work in a team environment, then form smaller groups of like-minded people and finally select some of them as our friends.

What is a true friendship? How does it start? Are we destined to become friends with certain people or can we actually plan whom to be friends with?

“Everybody’s friend is nobody’s” , said Arthur Schopenhauer. Unlike a companionship based on belonging to the same team or group, friendship is a very personal and selective type of people’s relationships. It calls for trust, sincerity, and emotional bonds. It’s not without reason that we call our friends our alter ego.

Sociologists believe that most of the people are looking for similarity of views, social status, and interests when choosing friends. No wonder that our friends are often people of the same age, sex, and education. Another important factor is joint activity and solidarity. This is the reason why many of us befriend their colleagues and people who work in the same field.

Another underestimated common prerequisite for friendship is geographical proximity. If our friends move out-of-town or overseas, it is a very common reason why friendship falls apart. Maintaining a long distance friendship is a challenge, and not many of us pass this test.

Most people would agree that a friend is someone who would always listen and understand. “UNDERSTANDING in this context implies a lot of meanings – compassion, sympathy, and emotional closeness. It’s a process when your friend deciphers your emotional state, shares your feelings, identifies himself/herself with you.


“Friendship is like money, easier made than kept”, said Samuel Butler. To maintain friendship we have to make an effort. Friendship can be time-consuming and might require some sacrifice from our part – staying up all night comforting a girlfriend after a hard breakup, canceling you hairdresser’s appointment to babysit your friends’ kids, or taking care of someone’s pets. But friendship rewards us with a warm feeling of being there for someone, being important, being part of someone’s life.

The number of single people is growing every day, making modern psychologists question the need for a serious relationship between men and women. People are getting more and more self-sufficient and don’t seem to need a life partner any longer. Now, when successful career and professional self-realization have become priority for fresh graduates, when taking maternity leave will take away your chances of ever catching up with your more successful and commitment-free coworkers, most people tend to delay settling down or even moving in with someone until their late thirties. And by this time many of them are so much used to living independently, that they find a mere thought of living with someone or considering any kind of commitment repulsive. “I am not a marrying type. I am missing the bride gene”, says Carrie Bradshow in the “Sex and the City”, who has become a role model for many single women around the world.

It’s a reality we have to acknowledge – people become more and more alienated, introverted and scared of getting closer to each other. Does it seem familiar? Each gender is trying to make con¬tact with the other side, but is becoming trapped and confused in the process. Like a beast who has come too close to a hot-wired electric fence, we’ve seen both men and women jump back and retreat from the oppo¬site sex, because they are afraid of risking the potential pain of rejection. So they keep their distance.

One of the hardest things to experience is having feelings for someone who doesn’t have the same feelings for you. Fortunately so far, I haven’t let myself fall for anyone who didn’t have the same intentions. That doesn’t mean I haven’t developed feelings despite knowing that I wasn’t supposed to, but I can keep them under control and that’s the key. If knowing that something hasn’t got a future I reach a barrier that keeps my feelings from becoming out of control. And for that barrier I am hugely grateful, it has saved a lot of heartache and pain, whether it continues to do so is an entirely different matter.

However, psychological studies reveal that people who manage to maintain healthy relationships really have more happiness and less stress. There are simple ways to make relationships healthy, even though each one is different… boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, professors, roommates, and classmates.

 

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  “Pooh!” he whispered.  “Yes, Piglet?”  “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  “I just wanted to be sure of you.”  ~A.A. Milne


There are so many forms of relationship’ that it becomes more and more difficult to determine which one you are in. Even the dictionary has trouble defining it as there is no definition under relationship’, relation yes, relations yes, relationship no. Therefore we make our own interpretations. Having been in long relationships, short relationships and just sexual relationships, I am always amused at the idea that each category has its own set of rules and regulations. Of course it’s the individuals involved that make up the real rules and regulations, we just have a general guideline that we are advised’ to follow.

Here are some tips to keep any kind of people’s relationships healthy:

  • Accept people as they are and don’t try to change them.
  • Be yourself. Healthy relationships are made of real people, not images!
  • Talk with each other and genuinely listen.
  • Be reliable – keep your promises, meet deadlines
  • Don’t criticize. Avoid blaming the other person for your thoughts and feelings.
  • Admit mistakes and say ‘sorry’ when you are wrong

 

To My Good Friend

•February 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Distance less travelled is a road of shattered dreams
The pain and sorrows left behind are backward flowing streams
You go through life imagining all the things you want
But before you understand them all they’ll do is haunt
I been alive for 20 years I watched them come and go
And here I sit again my friend not having any to hold
So take my word I mean you well embrace your life right now
For right before your weary eyes, you’ll wonder when and how.
I made mistakes throughout my life; I’ve tried to make them right
But each and every time I try I end up here at night
I can’t explain the way things work I just know that they are
Don’t look too much ahead of you; you may just look too far
Love is another option; you’ll have throughout your life
But always keep in mind my friend; it can hurt much like a knife
It can wake you every morning, or put you in your grave
Everyone must take that fall, just stand there and be brave
At some point in your life, you’ll find a special friend
One that disregards your flaws and loves you till the end
Don’t confuse the love you feel it’s different than before
Hold on tight to what it is, letting go will make you poor
A best friend in my eyes is much more than friend
Its understanding, loyalty, dedication to the end
Its long car rides, swings and slides, its ice cream late at night
It’s sharing thoughts, and frozen drinks, it’s that petty little fight
My friend I share these feelings to let you know I care
I’d never turn my back on you, not even on a dare
So understand this one last thing before I say goodbye
I made this poem just for you, my best friend till I die’


I hope we can be like we were before and give me a chance to explain myself to you and i don’t want to have any misunderstanding between us anymore. PJ

From error to error one discovers the entire truth

•February 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. ~Al Franken~

You can only learn from a mistake after you admit you’ve made it. As soon as you start blaming other people (or the universe itself) you distance yourself from any possible lesson. But if you courageously stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible” the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they do.

This advice runs counter to the cultural assumptions we have about mistakes and failure, namely that they are shameful things. We’re taught in school, in our families, or at work to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes. This sense of shame combined with the inevitability of setbacks when attempting difficult things explains why many people give up on their goals: they’re not prepared for the mistakes and failures they’ll face on their way to what they want. What’s missing in many people’s beliefs about success is the fact that the more challenging the goal, the more frequent and difficult setbacks will be. The larger your ambitions, the more dependent you will be on your ability to overcome and learn from your mistakes.

But for many reasons admitting mistakes is difficult. An implied value in many cultures is that our work represents us: if you fail a test, then you are a failure. If you make a mistake then you are a mistake (You may never have felt this way, but many people do. It explains the behaviour of some of your high school or college friends). Like eggs, steak and other tasty things we are given letter grades (A, B, C, D and F) organizing us for someone else’s consumption: universities and employers evaluate young candidates on their grades, numbers based on scores from tests unforgiving to mistakes.

For anyone than never discovers a deeper self-identity, based not on lack of mistakes but on courage, compassionate intelligence, commitment and creativity, life is a scary place made safe only by never getting into trouble, never breaking rules and never taking the risks that their hearts tell them they need to take.

Learning from mistakes requires three things:

1. Putting yourself in situations where you can make interesting mistakes
2. Having the self-confidence to admit to them
3. Being courageous about making changes

First I have to classify the different kinds of mistakes.

The four kinds of mistakes

One way to categorize mistakes is into these categories:

Stupid: Absurdly dumb things that just happen. Stubbing your toe, dropping your pizza on your neighbour’s fat cat or poking yourself in the eye with a banana.

Simple: Mistakes that are avoidable but your sequence of decisions made inevitable. Having the power go out in the middle of your party because you forgot to pay the rent, or running out of beer at said party because you didn’t anticipate the number of guests.

Involved: Mistakes that are understood but require effort to prevent. Regularly arriving late to work/friends, eating fast food for lunch every day, or going bankrupt at your start-up company because of your complete ignorance of basic accounting.

Complex: Mistakes that have complicated causes and no obvious way to avoid next time. Examples include making tough decisions that have bad results, relationships that fail, or other unpleasant or unsatisfying outcomes to important things.

I’m leaving all philosophical questions about mistakes up to you. One person’s pleasure is another person’s mistake: decide for yourself. Maybe you enjoy stabbing your neighbour’s cat with a banana, who knows. We all do things we know are bad in the long term, but are oh so good in the short term. So regardless of where you stand, I’m working with you. However, mistakes are defined in your personal philosophy.

Learning from mistakes that fall into the first two categories (Stupid & Simple) is easy, but shallow. Once you recognize the problem and know the better way, you should be able to avoid similar mistakes. Or in some cases you’ll realize that no matter what you do once in a while you’ll do stupid things (e.g. even Einstein stubbed his toes).

But these kinds of mistakes are not interesting. The lessons aren’t deep and it’s unlikely they lead you to learn much about yourself or anything else.

The kind of mistakes you make define you. The more interesting the mistakes, the more interesting the life. If your biggest mistakes are missing reruns of tv-shows or buying the wrong lottery ticket you’re not challenging yourself enough to earn more interesting mistakes.

And since there isn’t much to learn from simple and stupid mistakes, most people try to minimize their frequency and how much time we spend recovering from them. Their time is better spent learning from bigger mistakes. But if we habitually or compulsively make stupid mistakes, then what we really have is an involved mistake.

Involved mistakes

The third pile of mistakes, Involved mistakes, requires significant changes to avoid. These are mistakes we tend to make through either habit or nature. But since change is so much harder than we admit, we often suffer through the same mistakes again and again instead of making the tough changes needed to avoid them. Hmmm.

Difficultly with change involves an earlier point made in my blog. Some feel that to agree to change means there is something wrong with them. “If I’m perfect, why would I need to change?” Since they need to protect their idea of perfection, they refuse change (Or possibly, even refuse to admit they did anything wrong).

But this is a trap: refusing to acknowledge mistakes, or tendencies to make similar kinds of mistakes, is a refusal to acknowledge reality. If you can’t see the gaps, flaws, or weaknesses in your behaviour you’re forever trapped in the same behaviour and limitations you’ve always had, possibly since you were a child (When someone tells you you’re being a baby, they might be right).

Another challenge to change is that it may require renewing commitments you’ve broken before, from the trivial “Yes, I’ll try to remember to take the trash out” to the more serious “I’ll try to stop sleeping with all of your friends”. This happens in any environment: the workplace, friendships, romantic relationships or even commitments you’ve made to yourself. Renewing commitments can be tough since it requires not only admitting to the recent mistake, but acknowledging similar mistakes you’ve made before. The feelings of failure and guilt become so large that we don’t have the courage to try again.

This is why success in learning from mistakes often requires involvement from other people, either for advice, training or simply to keep you honest. A supportive friend’s, mentor’s or professional’s perspective on your behaviour will be more objective than your own and help you identify when you’re hedging, breaking or denying the commitments you’ve made.

In moments of weakness the only way to prevent a mistake is to enlist someone else. “Nina, I want to get drunk today but I promised Naf I wouldn’t. Can we hang out so you can make sure I don’t do it today?” Admitting you need help and asking for it often requires more courage than trying to do it on your own.

The biggest lesson to learn in involved mistakes is to that you have to examine your own ability to change. Some kinds of change will be easier for you than others and until you make mistakes and try to correct them you won’t know which they are.

Complex mistakes

The most interesting kinds of mistake are the last group: Complex mistakes. The more complicated the mistake you’ve made, the more patient you need to be. There’s nothing worse than flailing around trying to fix something you don’t understand: you’ll always make things worse.

Professional investigators, like journalists, police detectives and doctors, try to get as many perspectives on situations as possible before taking action (Policemen use eyewitnesses, Doctors use exams and tests, scientific studies use large sample sizes). They know that human perception, including their own, is highly fallible and biased by many factors. The only way to obtain an objective understanding is to compare several different perspectives. When trying to understand your own mistakes in complex situations you should work in the same way.

Start by finding someone else to talk to about what happened. Even if no one was within 50 yards when you crashed your best friend’s AUDI into your neighbour’s living room, talking to someone else gives you the benefit of their experience applied to your situation. They may know of someone that’s made a similar mistake or know a way to deal with the problem that you don’t.

But most importantly, by describing what happened you are forced to break down the chronology and clearly define (your recollection of) the sequence of events. They may ask you questions that surface important details you didn’t notice before. There may have been more going on (did the brakes fail? Did you swerve to avoid your neighbour’s daughter? etc.) than you, consumed by your emotions about your failure, realized.

Until you work backwards for moments, hours or days before the actual mistake event, you probably won’t see all of the contributing factors and can’t learn all of the possible lessons. The more complex the mistake, the further back you’ll need to go and the more careful and open-minded you need to be in your own investigation. You may even need to bring in an objective outsider to help sort things out. You’d never have a suspect in a crime lead the investigation, right? Then how can you completely trust yourself to investigate your own mistakes??

Here some questions I ask to help my investigation:

• What was the probable sequence of events?
• Were their multiple small mistakes that led to a larger one?
• Were there any erroneous assumptions made?
• Did we have the right goals? Were we trying to solve the right problem?
• Was it possible to have recognized bad assumptions earlier?
• Was there information we know now that would have been useful then?
• What would we do differently if in this exact situation again?
• How can we avoid getting into situations like this? (What was the kind of situation we wanted to be in?)
• Was this simply unavoidable given all of the circumstances? A failure isn’t a mistake if you were attempting the impossible.
• Has enough time passed for us to know if this is a mistake or not?

As you put together the sequence of events, you’ll recognize that mistakes initially categorized as complex eventually break down into smaller mistakes. Once you’ve broken a complex mistake down you can follow the previous advice on making changes.

Humor and Courage

No amount of analysis can replace your confidence in yourself. When you’ve made a mistake, especially a visible one that impacts other people, it’s natural to question your ability to perform next time. But you must get past your doubts. The best you can do is study the past, practice for the situations you expect, and get back in the game. Your studying of the past should help broaden your perspective. You want to be aware of how many other smart, capable well meaning people have made similar mistakes to the one you made, and went on to even bigger mistakes, I mean successes, in the future.

One way to know you’ve reached a healthy place is your sense of humor. It might take a few days, but eventually you’ll see some comedy in what happened. When friends tell stories of their mistakes it makes you laugh, right? Well when you can laugh at your own mistakes you know you’ve accepted it and no longer judge yourself on the basis of one single event. Reaching this kind of perspective is very important in avoiding future mistakes. Humor loosens up your psychology and prevents you from obsessing about the past. It’s easy to make new mistakes by spending too much energy protecting against the previous ones. Remember the saying “a man fears the tiger that bit him last, instead of the tiger that will bite him next”.

So the most important lesson in all of mistake making is to trust that while mistakes are inevitable, if you can learn from the current one, you’ll also be able to learn from future ones. No matter when happens tomorrow you’ll be able to get value from it, and apply it to the day after that. Progress won’t be a straight line but if you keep learning you will have more successes than failures, and the mistakes you make along the way will help you get to where you want to go.

The learning from mistakes

• Accepting responsibility makes learning possible.
• Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake.
• You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.
• Growth starts when you can see room for improvement.
• Work to understand why it happened and what the factors were.
• What information could have avoided the mistake?
• What small mistakes, in sequence, contributed to the bigger mistake?
• Are there alternatives you should have considered but did not?
• What kinds of changes are required to avoid making this mistake again? What kinds of change are difficult for you?
• How do you think your behaviour should/would change in you were in a similar situation again?
• Work to understand the mistake until you can make fun of it (or not want to kill others that make fun).
• Don’t over-compensate: the next situation won’t be the same as the last.

Sometimes the littlest thing in life changes something forever and there will be times when you wish you can go back to how things used to be but you just can’t because things have changed so much.

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now.?

I’ve learned so much from my mistakes!

To PJ, I have something to tell you that I’m blessed to have you in my life as a good friend and  we will be normal and this is my promise to you.