Celebrating Mistakes—Or, The Joy of Wrecks

DSC_9955I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot . . . and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed—Michael Jordan

I never learned a thing from a tournament I won—Bobby Jones, golfer

Flops are a part of life’s menu and I’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses—Rosalind Russell, actress *

This is an ode to mistakes.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from instructions in books, and from people who serve as positive role models in my daily life.

But my most powerful and persistent teachers have been my mistakes.

And, the mistakes that embarrassed me the most have also taught me the most.

Please understand: I do not mean that I set out to make mistakes. Instead, I strive to do my best. And, if I do make a mistake, I look for a lesson to learn.


I can write about mistakes with authority. Why? Because I have made so many.

Once upon a time I reduced a client to tears by editing her work. She had no idea that there are different kinds of editors. As a content editor, I spent hours crafting structural changes to her book manuscript. She thought I was a proofreader who was merely going to “dot her i’s and “cross her t’s.”

Big mistake.

The lesson: Always explain to clients what you do. Don’t assume that they know.

For another project, I spent weeks editing a book manuscript and greatly expanding the content. Then the designer “poured” the text into his book template.

The result: I’d submitted 200 pages of material beyond the client’s desired page limit.

Two. Hundred. Pages.

Another big mistake.

The lesson: Clarify word counts up front. Then use your text editor to regularly check word counts before you submit a manuscript.

When people approach me about working on a book project, I’ve assumed that they have something to say—and enough content to justify at least 20,000 words of text.

Yet another big mistake.

The lesson: Ask yourself three crucial questions before starting a book project. If the answer to all three is yes, then begin with a book proposal.

My wish for you: May you forever be blessed by the lessons you take from your mistakes.

*These quotes are taken from But They Did Not Give Up—something to read whenever you make a mistake.