Generally, we try not to make mistakes. You might regret your mistakes, or maybe you even manage to learn a lesson from making one.
But do you have a favorite mistake? One that you thought was terrible, but turned out to be beneficial? Or maybe one that provided you with such an opportunity to grow that it impacted your entire life?
What is your favorite mistake?
Related questions: When is it useful to fail? What do you do that you shouldn’t? What is the value of inefficiency? How has luck shaped your life?
It can be argued that a mistake teaches you more than success does. We learn what not to do, as well as how to deal with adversity.
No one is perfect, and so for each and every one of us, errors are bound to happen. How we respond to our flubs and gaffes can be show us a lot about ourselves.
These mistakes can happen in any area of our lives, but no doubt some are more significant than others. Errors we make as children in school can be formative.
Similarly, learning from a screw-up on the job can ultimately make you a better co-worker or leader. And how you react when your let down your loved ones — and how they react to you in those instances — can inform your personality.
Can you think of a particular mistake that taught you the most? What lesson did you learn? Were you shaped by something that you got wrong — or your response to it?
Related questions: When is it useful to fail? How do you define success? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? What is uncomfortable but rewarding?
There are goals in life that range from the easy to the difficult to the impossible. Is there value in doing things in each?
For the easy tasks or goals, they certainly seem worthwhile. If you can accomplish a series of easy tasks and show incremental progress, they can add up to significant steps forward. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Similarly, difficult tasks occasionally need to be undertaken. And while they might be challenging, and might even lead to failure, when they are accomplished it can be very rewarding. In addition, attempting something that is difficult can offer us the opportunity to grow and reach our potential.
But what about the impossible? If we can never accomplish something, is there anything to be gained from the attempt? Is there a benefit from trying to do the impossible?
This also raises another question: how can we categorize a task that we are about to undertake? How can we tell if something is going to be easy or difficult? Or difficult versus impossible? Are we able to know, with any accuracy, what’s impossible and what’s not?
In addition, are there different levels of impossible? Where do we draw the line between noble and foolhardy, when it comes to the impossible? Achieving world peace seems impossible, but the attempt might be considered valuable. It is not possible, in contrast, for me to jump to the moon. Is it foolish of me to try?
Or another example: there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. The laws of thermodynamics prohibit it. Is there anything to be gained from trying to build one? Or is it a waste of time and effort that could be going to a better-chosen task?
Related questions: How do you define success? How do we know what we don’t know? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? Is understanding possible?
There are some amazing things about our society. Unfortunately, there are also many ways that society is failing to provide for us, its citizens.
Listing the ways that we could be better might sound depressing. But ultimately, the first step to making improvements is to determine what needs to be improved.
With that in mind, what are the ways that our government, our companies, our institutions are letting us down? Where is society failing?
Related questions: What is the greatest problem facing humanity? When is it useful to fail? What is keeping us from sustaining the planet? How can we turn sadness into constructive action?
There are a number of things in life that we might find uncomfortable. Discomfort can be found all around us, in both our personal and professional lives.
These can range from something relatively innocuous (say, an itchy sweater) to something more serious (like an inappropriate joke at work). For the most part, we experience discomfort for a reason. Typically, it is an indication that something is wrong.
Sometimes, however, a feeling of discomfort can be prelude to an improvement of some sort. Most people like things that are stable, and events or people that upset that stability, even in the process of making an improvement, can be disruptive. Change is uncomfortable.
Over the last decade or so, disruption has even become a buzzword in the business (and tech) world. AirBNB has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Used in this way, the word “disruption” suggests a change introduced that may cause chaos to an established industry or service, but ultimately leads to a better product for the consumer.
What are some other examples of something that starts out being awkward or difficult, but ultimately lead to positive change or growth? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we tell “positive” discomfort from the “negative”?
Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When is doubt helpful?