“If only I had my life to live again, I would make the same mistakes, only sooner.” Tallulah Bankhead
Over the years I have seen interviews with many famous people; musicians, movie stars, politicians and the like. What never fails to amaze me is the popular response to the question “Looking back on your life what would you have done differently?”. Too often, egos blazing, the answers sound something like “I wouldn’t have changed a thing”. Are you kidding! How is it possible to go through life without learning something? Things that would have made your life better? These people are so vain that they can’t even acknowledge their own mistakes or foolish actions, many of which would have had negative effects upon others. We all make blunders in our life… or miss opportunities we only learned about in retrospect. These things should not only be recognized but considered and understood. That is how we grow as individuals.
If we follow Tallulah’s advice, we should not be afraid to make a mistake and the sooner the better. Implicit in her saying is that not only do we learn from those mistakes but they offer the valuable life-lessons. She obviously felt that her mistakes helped make her life richer. As a liberal, bon vivant actress, Tallulah lived life to the fullest. She learned, grew and developed. As Einstein once wrote, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” I would add, avoiding new things for fear of failing is a recipe for a boring life.
Obviously there are limitations to a mistake laden life… some mistakes can, and should, be avoided. Listening to others through books, media and mentors will help you avoid major errors and poor choices. Just ensure you choose classic literature, reliable sources of technological information and wise friends. Trust their counsel but show no fear in trying new things and forging novel directions. Expect blunders. Laugh at your mistakes. Apologize when necessary. Jump into living with both feet (and wear a helmet when necessary).