Friday, January 28, 2005

The young executive asked his mentor, "What's the secret to success?"

"Two words," his mentor simply responded, "Right decisions."

"And how do you make right decisions?" the young executive inquired.

"One word," the mentor again replied, "Experience."

"And how do you get experience?" the young executive inquired again.

"Two words," the mentor answered again, "Wrong decisions."


It never fails. In order to succeed in this Life, we are to fail eventually... and most likely, fail often.

Not all-out failure at love or work or life journey, but accumulated series of misdirections and stopstarts. You know, those decisions that are not fatal but those ones that can leave you with a little emotional scarring and an expanded list of "what I would different next time" items. Those "hand on a hot stove" choices in our life that give us greater perspective and new found worldly wisdom. Those choices and decisions, wrapped up with a handful of successes, becomes our culminated experience.

Have you ever noticed how we are usually not able to identify our "right" decisions when they are occurring? But we can easily pick out those grand blunders, miscues and mishaps - it's a skill that must be part of our primitive reflexive system. For me, mistakes and wrong decisions are okay. It's one of the simple ways we each know that (1) we're simply human and (2) that we're still alive. Mistakes and wrong decisions are just part of the luggage we cart around on our earthly journey. As I said, they're okay to occur in my life as long as the following criteria are met:

  • I have no intention or foresight of ever hurting another person by my mistake or wrong decision.
  • The wrong decision or mistake is not fatal to myself or another person.
  • I am not able to identify it as a wrong decision or mistake before it occurs.

If the mistake or wrong decision meets these criteria, then I try not to dwell on it too long after the fact. Because, as you may find in your own life, a wrong decision or mistake often times sets my life in a right (or better) direction. It remains one of those wild and crazy mysteries of Life, so don't ask me to explain it.

As for right decisions, what is my criteria? Well, I really don't have any but often refer to the advice my father gave me years ago. He said, "Son, often times you may never know if you've made the right decision. So, once you've made your decision, you have to make it the right one."

Perhaps what my father and the mentor above were alluding to is this: The secret of success is in the trying. We may need thirty years of distance and time in a rocking chair to reflect back on our adventures and decide which were right and which were wrong decisions. The important thing is have the courage to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. And besides, as our attempt at making decisions increases, the odds also increase that we'll eventually make a right decision. So blunder and mis-step away... to not do so would be downright inhuman.

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