#777 Stepping Stones to Success

Daniel Amen on Mistakes

In our last +1, we enjoyed some zigs and zags with Ralph Waldo Emerson and talked about the importance of maintaining self-trust in the midst of inevitable setbacks and lack of clarity/confusion.

Today I want to bring leading psychiatrist Daniel Amen in to pound that point in a little deeper.

In Change Your Brain, Change Your Life he tells us: “When people come to see me they are usually not doing very well. Over time, if they work the plan we develop, they get better. But no one gets better in a straight line. They get better, then there is a setback, then they get better still, then there may be a setback, then they continue to improve. Over time, they reach a new steady state where they are consistently better. The setbacks are critically important, because if we pay attention to them, they can be our best teachers.”

He continues by saying: “Do you learn from your failures or ignore them? New brain-imaging research suggests that when some people fail their motivation centers become more active, making it more likely they will be able to learn from their experience. When others fail the brain’s pain centers become more active—it literally hurts—making it more likely they will do whatever they can to avoid thinking about the episode, which means they are more likely to repeat the mistake. Learn from your mistakes and use them as stepping stones to success.”

Yep. That’s about it.

Remember: NO ONE OPTIMIZES + ACTUALIZES IN A STRAIGHT LINE.

Check out this image to get the point visually:



I LOVE that image.

Change occurs in stages.

We take a few steps forward, and then fall back a step (or three!). Then we repeat.

As we continue to put in the hard work, over the long run (!!!) our highs are significantly higher and more stable than before and our lows are considerably higher than before.

But, a) We’ll still have highs and lows + b) We’ll get there in a set of zig zag—not straight—lines. That’s Part 1.

Part 2: How do you respond to your mistakes?

Do you APPROACH them and look to learn from them or do you AVOID them and try to pretend it’s all groovy?

It’s always fascinating to me that we can observe tendencies like this in the brain itself. And, it’s inspiring to know that we can re-wire to optimize.

(btw: Carol Dweck echoes this same insight! Check out our +1 on Depressed? Two Ways to Respond!)

Today’s +1.

What’s one mistake you can get excited about as an opportunity to learn and grow?

What did it teach you? How will you be a better person as a result of it?

Here’s to using our mistakes as stepping stones to success!

+1. +1. +1.

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