Being Smart is Not Enough

We also need accountability.

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”George Bernard Shaw

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams

When I think of the bigger, tentpole mistakes I’ve made over the last ten years, 100% of them come from a lack of forethought and accountability. I don’t give much weight to regret,(because regret doesn’t help us move forward, only keeps us stuck looping our past) but I can’t help but feel that if I had only had another “me,” (someone who sees the world objectively and desires to live intentionally) then the major dum-dum decisions I’ve made would have never happened.

One of my mistakes a few years ago was staying too long at a company that wasn’t the right fit for me. I joined for the wrong reasons and there was miscommunication from the get-go. But I was strung along, and convinced to stay, despite the problems and frustrations it was causing me. But I didn’t see them. I was making the “right” decisions for the wrong reasons. (Which is as unhelpful as making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.)

Mistakes are thoughtless errors in judgment. By “thoughtless” I don’t mean hurtful or cruel, I mean thought-less —mistakes are decisions we make without stepping back and thinking things through. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury to step back, particularly when decisions get heated and we snap back with anger like a hungry Rottweiler. But that doesn’t mean we can’t train ourselves to make clear decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to blame others for my mistakes either. Of course, the mistakes of my past are not something I can change. But, I can use them to better inform and improve my future decisions.

“If only I had another ‘me’ around to help” immediately prompts two questions:

  1. Why do I assume I have to rely on someone else to think objectively? Why not create structures around decisions that help prevent dumb mistakes from happening?
  2. And additionally, who can I surround myself with that I can go to for advice to avoid unforeseen preventable misfortunes?

Plenty of smart people make stupid mistakes. Having a brain doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Mistakes are a part of life—particularly if you are trying to help others and create valuable things. But still. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to avoid any stupid mistake that’s preventable.

Here are 3 Tips for avoiding careless mistakes:

1. Use Preventative Societal Barriers

Sometimes doing what we want isn’t always best for us (We don’t always have our own safety in mind.).
For example, if you’re credit isn’t good enough to get a credit card or buy a new car, then that’s a good thing. Having bad credit sucks, but it’s also a barrier that can prevent you from making a potentially bad financial move. Sure it’s limiting that so-and-so didn’t approve of your application, but what if it’s a good thing?

Some societal barriers need to be broken, others are guardrails that keep us from harming our future selves. Which is which comes back to thinking objectively and having friends you can go to for advice.

2. Give Every Big Decision at least One Night of Sleep.

If you have to make a big decision and you can’t tell which way to go, then sleep on it. Give each important decision a little breathing from so you can listen to your mind and intuition. If someone is forcing you to make a decision in the moment, then say no. Unless it’s life and death, nothing is worth an immediate “yes” or “no”, especially if you are unsure.

3. Cultivate a Thriving Accountability Group

Build a group of life advisers you can goto for when you need the make an important decision. When in doubt, get advice. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help or a second opinion.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1056

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️

Join the Renaissance:

NewslettersConsiderations | Practices |  Bookaholics

SubscribeRenaissance Life on Apple Podcast | Renaissance Life on Spotify

Leave a Reply