ARGH!  Making a dumb mistake.  Could anything be worse than that?

Making stupid mistakes tends to leave you red-faced and embarrassed.  You trip on an uneven stepping stone because you were running down a muddy path in the dark, and you slip and take a header.

Bunged-up knees, scraped shins, bruises, and assorted bumps and lumps are the prizes that remind you of the dumbness of you.  You already know you’re not supposed to go careening off in the dark, so all you’ve done is validate a fact already known to you.  There is no lesson learned, only one reiterated.  Again.

Everybody around you sighs (or laughs) at the latest pratfall.  Everybody agrees it’s “only human.”  (It isn’t so bad unless you’re the human who made the error.)


But, then, there are the other kinds of mistakes.  The interesting ones, the ones that test your perceived limits and leads you to scratch your head and say, “Huh?  How did that happen?  Can I repeat it?  What can I do with it?”

You need an example?  Okay.  Did you know that brownies are failed chocolate cakes?

Brownies by lauraklehmann via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
 Way back when some baker made a big mistake and ended up with a flat, chocolate cookie instead of a tall, glorious cake.  Since there wasn’t anything else for dessert, the cook served it up anyway. Foodies went wild.  Now bakers make brownies deliberately, repeating the original error (and expanding on it) to our great pleasure.

Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and film.  His notable works include the comic book series THE SANDMAN, a legendary series that one reviewer said “changed the landscape of modern comics” as well as novels like STARDUST, AMERICAN GODS, CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

I have grown fond of Gaiman’s thoughts.  My favorite quote from the guy is this one:  “Go and make interesting mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes.  Leave the world more interesting for your being here.  Make Good Art.”

Hear, hear, Neil….

My own thought is, since I am going to be making mistakes anyhow, it’s a lot more fun when they are interesting ones.


In this YouTube video, “What Do Mistakes Reveal About Human Nature,” by Big Think, Harvard  psychologist and writer Dan Gilbert talks about how the mistakes we make are the result of “arguments” between our right and left brains.  Gilbert is fascinated by the whole thing.

Gilbert’s best-selling book, STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS, presents example after example of human foibles and delusions that arise out of the way our human brains are structured.


And then there’s American businessman, Roy H. Williams, who wrote a trilogy of books about the Wizard of Ads.”  Williams spent a quarter of a century studying on why folks do what they do.  He used the empirical knowledge he gained to help his small business clients grow their businesses rapidly and well.

Williams’ tip is this:  “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”

Here’s a poem….




Here I am….

Backed up against life and being.

All the world and its cares press on me,

Jostling against my bubble,

Demanding that I answer

That ultimate question,

The one Big G asked Adam

When he was hiding under

All those bushes in the Garden

After That Woman and her friend, the Snake,

MADE him bite into that apple-thing.

(Really, they did.

It was all, all, all their fault.

Ask Adam.)


The question?



That question still echoes

Down through the ages.

The Dude’s come looking for you,

And, boy, is HE gonna be pissed.

You had one job…ONE JOB…

And you blew it!

The Epic Fail to the Max.

That’s when THAT question

Thunders down from the sky:



You’re Adam, okay?

And you hear THAT.

So you try to make yourself small.

You try, try, try to go unnoticed,

Tick-tocking your way

Through your boring, meaningless routines –

Sorting and stacking leaves and shit,

Organizing the hell out of those messy trees,

Beating up on all the critters,

Trying to line up all those ducks just right,

Trying to make those silly chipmunks

Stop fooling around…

And you know The Big Guy’s waiting.


And it comes again, that question:




Can’t put it off any longer.

(It’s not a real good idea

To ignore The Dude, ya know.

Maybe, maybe, maybe…)






Oh, wow!

Now, he’s really mad!


Here goes…

H-h-h-here I am…



Ya know what happened next.


So, yup, uh-huh,

Here I am,

Backed up against life and being…again.

Just another in a long line of dummies

Caught in the act of failing

To make the prescribed, mandated move

Imposed from on high,

On the verge of getting kicked out of

Yet another garden,

Designed and organized by some Almighty or other.


And ya know what?

It occurs to me that

I am HERE,

At the start of yet another adventure,

At the beginning of one more history…

A true descendant of the lineage of Adam.

By Netta Kanoho
Picture credit:  Mistakes…by Chris and Karen Highland via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]



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Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.










  1. I really like the quote of our mistakes being because of arguments between our right and left brain. I am dyslexic so I have arguments with my logical side and my creative side all the time.

    I know you may be extremely busy but I would love to hear any more reccommendations you have for people that tackle that issue.

    Do you think that people with learning difficulties such as dyslexia have an advantage in the fact that they HAVE to make mistakes all the time in order to get anywhere.

    1. Hey Connor:

      Actually, I am somewhat dyslexic. Numbers jump around on me and it can be extraordinarily frustrating for other people when I try to give them directions. I mix up left and right all the time. (Often GPS doesn’t help much. Our road names are all in Hawaiian and they change on ya without warning….)

      I got kicked out of more than one hula class because when everybody would go left, I’d go right. Then I’d clown around because I was all embarrassed! Is it any wonder, I kept getting kicked out of class? I used to tell myself I’d be a great dancer if they’d just let me do it by myself!

      By now you’ve probably got some experience with goofing up and you know when you’re likely to do it. For me, the number thing is a required part of my job. (I have to do various financial reports every month and then again at the end of the year. ARGH!)

      What I’ve found is that when you know you’re likely to run into trouble with something, it’s probably also a given that you are going to have to double- and triple-check your stuff even if you get it right 80 percent of the time.

      I develop systems for doing that pretty much automatically now. And if I get it wrong, well…it’s usually pretty easy to back-track and do it right. (I’m very good at other stuff so the people in my life put up with me.) It helps that I always cop to my errors and I correct them.

      For the right/left directional thing, if I space on it, I will pretend I am writing. The hand that waves around in the air is my right hand. My body knows even if my head forgets. (Yes, it looks silly. That’s why when I talk, I use lots of hand-movements. People who don’t know me just think it’s a Hawaiian thing. I don’t tell them different.)

      I also train in a couple of pretty basic kung fu and ch’i kung forms. What seemed to help best is to learn a form leading with your favored side. Then you learn to do the same form with your weaker side. For some reason, this seems to train your brain halves to cooperate better somehow.

      My Si’fu says your mind moves the way your body moves. If you can do the same form with either side leading off, it seems to me, then it won’t really matter WHICH side you start with. Body-knowledge is a really cool thing to cultivate.

      And I find that making sure that I use different visual cues helps a lot. I use different colored markers and pens that help me organize and sort ideas and such faster. I write stuff out in regular pen and then make little marks in different colors (usually a circle or star or a line-drawn lightbulb when it’s a cool idea.) The bonus is that I have to read the stuff over so I can add my little marks. Practice, practice, practice!

      I do believe the dyslexia is a blessing in a way. It seems to mean that you are required to be more disciplined and more noticing than not. How can that be a bad thing? There are people who spend a lifetime trying to get themselves all disciplined. As a dyslexic person, you get automatically bonked every time you space out.

      The trick of it is to treat both halves of your brain with kindness and respect. The logical side can be a Spock guy from Star Trek. The other side can be Star Lord from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Both sides have strengths and weaknesses and since they’re both you anyhow, you do better when they are friends and help each other out.

      Well…that’s a bit of a rant. Thanks for asking! And, please, do come again…

  2. Nicely written! I often find mistakes are just learning curves that allows us to learn from our failures. I’ve made many mistakes sometimes way to many! lol

    Your poem was very well written and easy to follow. Thanks for this great post! I’m useless at writing poems was never good at it in school.

    Best wishes.

    1. Hey Trevor: Thanks for your visit and your comments. You’re right, of course. Fails are the rungs on the ladder to success. Or something like that….

      Thanks for the kind words about the poem.

      Please do come again….

  3. Cody@FreedomCompounded says:

    Very interesting topic indeed! I believe everything that happens, whether you call it a mistake or not – teaches us something not only about the circumstance, but of ourselves. We need to learn to analyze why we reacted the way we did to that mistakes, and learn ourselves in the process, you know what I mean?
    Stay well,

    1. Hey Cody: Thanks for your visit and comments. I do agree! Please come again….

  4. Mike Viray says:

    Well, in most situations I’d like to believe we can never learn without mistakes. These mishaps are often a part of the learning experience, whether it be in school, at work, or life in general. I think everyone has learned a thing or two from mistakes every now and then.

    1. Hey Mike:

      Thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      Please do come again….

  5. This is so great. I had no idea that one of the world’s favorite treats is a result of a failed chocolate cake! How cool!!! This is a great reminder that perhaps there really are no “mistakes”, only learning experiences. It’s all about how one percieves the things that happen. Like the baker who thought they messed up the chocolate cake, it pays to keep an open mind!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Aly.

      I agree: Sometimes mistakes can get you to the very best things!  You just have to look at them and notice when they’re good (even if they aren’t what you aimed for).   

      Please do come again.

  6. Henderson says:

    Hmmmm, very good post you have here.  Mistakes are inevitable for humans; we might be created perfect but we cannot act perfectly. 

    I like that you had to draw from real life experiences to show that mistakes can actually turn out to become a very good achievement. In the same vein, we can learn from out mistakes or that of others as Williams said. 

    For me, when I make mistakes, I take a long walk and reflect on it so that next time, I’m more careful. Great poem too, well structured starting from the believed first mistake of man. Very cool

    1. Thanks for the visit, Henderson, and for sharing your thoughts.

      I made this really dumb rule for myself, that I would NOT make the same mistakes twice.  It makes me examine what happened, check into what I did that went so wrong and then figure out other ways to try that are different.

      This does work…sort of.  The only problem is I’ve run through all the regular commonplace not-dumb mistakes and am now heading into territory where the consequences of the not-dumb and interesting mistakes I do make have heavier implications than the regular stuff.  

      I figured out that in order to counter the problems that ensue I have to develop better eyes for seeing what the ramifications of this move or that move might have, decide whether I actually even want to go there and then build up trust in myself to be able to deal with the consequences (if they do happen).  

      It is getting mighty interesting, I think.  It is also a really fun way to play.

      Please do come again.

  7. SeunJeremiah says:

    Indeed  We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights. I have indeed learnt alot from your article I’ll be willing to see more. Thanks 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts SeunJeremiah.  It’s a truth that the worst thing you can do is get overwhelmed by being afraid of making mistakes.  It keeps you stuck in suck when you do that.

      I’m glad the post was helpful to you.

      Please do come again.

  8. Louis Munro says:

    Hello Netta 

    It is interesting that you tackle a sometimes contentious subject like Life Mistakes with a beautiful poem that made me smile. 

    Some may argue that there are no mistakes only lessons. It is funny that we sometimes have to take double the time to figure out what the actual mistake was that we really made and why it was a mistake because of how it all played out…? 

    Maybe there are no mistakes only consequences it depends on how you perceive them? 

    Thanks for putting a smile on my face, it made my day. 

    All the best and keep sharing your beautiful ideas. 

    Louis Munro

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Louis.  I am so pleased you enjoyed the post!

      My own “contention” (such as it is) is that, probably, all this stuff is mostly semantics.  You move.  Your move then leads to another situation which engenders more moves and so on and so forth.  

      Every move has consequences.  If you like the results and ensuing aftermath of the move and you can make something of it, then maybe it wasn’t a mistake.  

      For some people, making ANY move feels like a mistake.  Me, I figure I’m gonna move anyhow.  (I do have a hard time sitting still.)  It seems to me that I might as well enjoy the whole durned thing!

      Please do come again.

  9. Christine says:

    That’s an interesting way of looking at mistakes. I always saw mistakes as something to learn from and not repeat them. The wise man does even better and learns from mistakes from others, very true. I learned not to repeat the mistakes of my parents. 

    The example with the brownie is excellent. Brownies are so delicious, and so that was a welcome mistake, and the baker reacted rather cleverly. Something similar happened to me once when I made a soy chorizo and black bean burger, but although I had made it before, this time it didn’t come out as firm as it used to, so it became a scramble and tasted just as good. 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Christine.  I’m glad the post engaged you.

      Please do come again.

  10. Emmanuel Emmato says:

    MISTAKES HELP YOU GROW AND EVOLVE You could remain stuck with what you know when you don’t make mistakes, but making mistakes will open your eyes to new knowledge that you probably don’t even know, and that will help you grow as a person.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

    1. True, dat. 

      Please do come again.

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