How Past Mistakes Kill Your Future

07/08/2014 11:37 am ET | Updated Sep 07, 2014

There's a saying "Nobody's perfect." This is true regardless of your gender, age, education, or personality. We humans are inherently flawed, and we spend much of every day in our lives trying to either do something right, or fix something that we somehow messed up. But in our quest for perfection, are we letting our past errors hold us back, avoiding risk that may, in fact, be the opportunities for something better?

One thing that I find really annoying is the person who, in their own pursuit of perfection, constantly criticizes everyone else in the world. This personality type will constant find what's wrong with everything and everybody, except for themselves of course, constantly mumbling terms like "idiot" or "dumb ass" under their breath. This insecurity drives them to look for and find faults in others, while at the same time protecting themselves from the same judgement. These people "use" people around them as personal therapy at other's expense. But at the same time, these folks seem to avoid the downfall of dwelling on past mistakes, and this makes them actually effectual at their tasks. They don't allow past screw-ups to bring them down.

When we think about and dwell on what we've done wrong in the past, it cloaks our psyche with a vail of uncertainty. What if we make the same mistake? What if we mess up? What if that mess up affects others? What if we get branded as a screw-up? We can kill our chances of doing great things by worrying about what we've done, or haven't done in the past.

Some people's past might be more complicated than others. Personal issues like jail time and divorce, or work related problems like failed projects or issues with coworkers, can all cloud our thinking and our drive to succeed. There is a component of empathy that causes us to feel sorry for other's that our mistakes have affected. This is what many people face when thinking about past issues. It's as much about what happened to people around them as it is about what they did wrong. But that same empathy can be your saving grace.

There is one thing in common with surgeons and soldiers; when something goes wrong, they are both taught to fix the problem and keep going. Neither sits and dwells on a problem or a mistake, especially when lives are on the line. Whether you're being shot at, or trying to save the life of a patient on a table right in front of you, there's something about potentially losing a life that makes you forget about how a mistake happened, and just fix it and move on. Empathy indirectly drives the idea of fixing things and continuing on.

This "fix it and go" mentality is what makes both surgeons and soldiers ultimate operators. They are at their best because they are un-phased about things that go wrong or went wrong. They fix the issue and move to the next task or mission. Sometimes, ignoring that voice inside can be the best solution to help you advance.

So reconsider past mistakes not as scars that forever live in your head and stop you from doing greater things. A machine usually doesn't just stop if one or two bolts pop loose. Keep your gears turning, and don't let past mistakes hold you down. Even the best and most successful among us will tell you that they've made their share of mistakes.

The question ultimately becomes "Will you step up from beyond your past, to allow your future to succeed?"...