Three Five Seven – # 239

Three, five, and seven
3    5    7
By Stan Shapiro MD, Grand Lodge Education Officer G.L. of MN

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ― Albert Einstein

Mistakes and The Value of Human Err

The saying goes “To err is human” and when we err we are reminded we are not perfect. As we work to make our ashlar more perfect and to become better men, we make mistakes. Error is a vital part of how we learn to change and when we recognize how we think and feel about our mistakes, we learn more about who we really are.

It’s not always easy to admit we have made a mistake and easier to blame others, rationalize or deny it. When we recognize we have done something wrong, some of us are critical of ourselves. If we are publicly corrected, reprimanded, downsized or embarrassed, most of us are hurt. However, when we are told we did something wrong, it does not have to diminish us.

When we make mistakes, we need to have the self-confidence to admit to them, take responsibility for them and not shrug them off. When we err, we can learn to forgive ourselves and use the opportunity to learn and grow. We can be courageous about making changes and resilient and remember to appreciate what we do between successes and errors.

As we learn to practice acceptance for and grow from our mistakes, we can help our brothers and our loved ones see it is okay to err and to take responsibility for their mistakes. When a brother or family member or friend makes a mistake, we can model being slow to anger, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We also need to give ourselves permission to do the same to ourselves when we err.

In Adaptation to Life, George E. Vaillant, a psychiatrist, wrote “It’s all too common for caterpillars to become butterflies and then maintain that in their youth they had been little butterflies” (Harvard University Press, 1988, p. 197). As Masons when we make mistakes and see ourselves awkwardly stumbling and fumbling like a caterpillar, we need to remember we are on a lifelong journey of self discovery to become a better man and like the butterfly are capable of soaring much higher.

Words to Live By: “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” ― Sophocles, in Antigone

The following are quotes from an article “How to learn from your mistakes” By Scott Berkun , published on July 17 2005: “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.   Work to understand why it happened and what the factors were. 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 behavior should/would change if you were in a similar situation again?”

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Harold E “Phil” Phillips, Jr, PM
Aurora 43, Newburg, WV