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November 11, 2011

Mistakes – they come in all sizes and shapes. Everyone makes them. And, people love to talk about them. So, let’s do that for a moment.

On a national level the biggest mistake in the news this past week was a humdinger – the improper reporting of a sex crime involving a child. The magnitude of that mistake led to the firing of a long-term football coach and a group of other high level administrators.

Then, there was a mistake that only cost the “mistake maker.” During a Republican presidential debate, Senator Rick Perry told the audience he would eliminate three branches of the federal government. His mistake was he had a memory lapse and could only recall two.

A famous person once said, “Mistakes in life are predictable and predictable is preventable.”

Since emergencies are often tied to mistakes you would think that emergency responders would be “mistake experts.” Although I cannot site an official study, I do believe emergency personnel make fewer mistakes leading to emergencies of their own.

But, even though an emergency responder might be more unlikely to make an emergency mistake, I don’t believe they are any better at avoiding mistakes in general.

And, don’t think that being highly successful is any indication of being mistake free.

Evidence to that is in a recently released autobiography of Steve Jobs. Even though this book was written before his death, Jobs wanted accuracy. The writer had complete access to both champions and enemies. As one of the most successful businessmen of all time Jobs still made mistakes – plenty of them.

Many schools no longer require students to take the subject of history. That’s unfortunate, because we can learn a lot about mistakes from history. Maybe they should re-title the course – MISTAKES.

Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Maybe we could tweak that quote a bit and say, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who make mistakes, but because of those who look on and do nothing to help them avoid those mistakes.”

It would be great if we could always get a “Do Over”, or cash in a “Get Out of Jail Free” card when we make a mistake.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works.

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