Mishtooks Galore

Merriam-Webster records 116 synonyms and antonyms for mistake, not including my personal twist on the word above. Mishtook, because it exemplifies and illustrates a mistake. What better way to explain it than by a demo, which catches attention? We all are surrounded by mistakes, errors, something gone wrong, misjudgments, blunders, misunderstandings, miscalculations, & we have to make our way through these troubled waters, the Scyalla & Charybdis to pursue our life goals and emerge successful.

So indeed we are all aware of mistakes, having made so many of them in our own lives. Some acknowledged as mistakes; many defended no end! Some learning points along the way; while many ignored & hence repeated!!! Yes we are indeed aware of mistakes as a topic & have often spent time mulling over them, Intuitively we know in mistakes there is a spectrum on severity & implications. Beginning from an error : I took a wrong turn while searching for an address. Mistake it is, as this error will take me further & further away from my destination. Error, lapse, slip, wrong but not earth shattering; easily correctible. Unless it is career wrong turn!!!

The second level would be misjudgment, miscalculation, a wrong statement/action a mistake whose consequences are not what we had bargained for & hence we resent/regret it. Not following genuine & well intentioned advice of friends, who know better, is a classic example. And finally, not following your girl-friend or wife’s advice takes it to the next level. Undoubtedly all my readers will agree that is a Blunder. 3rd level : blunder, goof-up, blooper, gaffe, snafu, foul-up would be words you can describe such a mistake of major implications on present and future. The Bay of Pigs Disaster which permanently scarred US & Russian relations is an example of Blunder.

Ok, so why are we interested in mistakes? Mistakes have the power to make you something better than you were before. When you accept your mistake & take action to overcome it, you are saying to the world you are better today, that you were yesterday. You know more now than earlier. And that is a great thing. Winston Churchill is credited with,” All men make mistakes, but only the wise ones learn from their mistakes” In fact it is said, there are no mistakes or failures, only lessons. Remember Edison who tried 1000 different elements while trying to invent the electric bulb. Some glowed but broke off, some were stable but did not give out any light. A journalist ridiculed Edison,” You have failed 1000 times” ,” No,” replied Edison” I know 1000 elements that do not work“. If you want to grow & move ahead in life, you must get over the fear of making mistakes. That is what lives of great people have taught us again & again. “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde. More the experience less the mistakes. More the Mistakes More the experience. A real virtuous circle???

When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.” Paul Bear Bryant. Mistakes can be the biggest teachers one can have in the journey of life. Make mistakes, learn from them & move on. Make glorious mistakes. Amazing mistakes. Go where no one has gone before. Do not freeze. Do not worry. Explore. Try new things. Whatever you are scared of, try it. Remember you are exposing yourself & the wider you go, greater the opportunity to learn. It is not how & what mistakes we make but the way we resolve the mistakes that defines us & shapes our life. And the best part is that you can equally learn from other people’s mistakes, if you are sensitive and curious. Which is why James Joyce told us ,” Mistakes are the portals of discovery”. Make new mistakes every day!

Of course there are some historical mistakes which cannot be corrected. The decisions which JF Kennedy took in 1960s of supporting the exiled Cubans launch an “invasion” of Cuba scarred Russia/Cuba/USA relations for ever. Jawaharlal Nehru decision to cease fire in 1948 at the peak of the Kashmir issue & then seek UN involvement in Kashmir arguably has cost the Indian polity very heavily. Also referred by Gen Cariappa & press as The Himalayan Blunder, is something we live with even 75 years after the event. Certainly a mistake that cannot be course corrected. Our Missile Man Abdul Kalam has recounted how in 1979 he was Mission Director at Sriharikota, incharge of the Satellite launch program At T-4 before launch, the computer system put a hold, APJK consulted his scientists. They concluded the fuel leakage was not so severe that the launch velocity would not be reached. Kalam by-passed the computer & launched the system, only to see it go into the Bay of Bengal. Lessons learnt, the next launch in 1980 was successful. But 1979 was a mistake.

When such mistakes are done there is precious little one can do save & except capture learnings for future. But sometimes even that luxury is not afforded to you. In my life I always rue one such mistake. Being the agnostic & black sheep of the family, I wanted my marriage to have nothing to do with god. My father-in-law being a staunch Hindu and committed RSS person was not able to reconcile. He tried a lot to persuade me and Vinita for a Hindu Vedic ceremony. But we were immature; I was adamant. And we had a court registered marriage. I rue not listening to him. What would it have cost me except my ego? But i held firm & now will carry the guilt of hurting him to my grave, a mistake which cannot be corrected in any manner now.

To end this blog I want to relate another Einstein anecdote. which speaks to mistakes & how we should learn to handle them. Einstein was a prolific innovator scientist. All his life’s earnings were invested in 2 multi-storied laboratories. The buildings were wooden & contained all of Einstein’s scientific work n innovations. One summer day, an electric short circuit cased a fire in the labs. Within no time the flames were reaching the sky. Einstein & his son we standing in the open fields watching all their life’s earning turn to ashes. The son felt Einstein’s pain So he put his arm around the old man’s frail shoulders. At that moment Einstein spoke,” I am happy. All my mistakes are burnt to the ground. Now tomorrow I can start all over again!” What an attitude!!!

Here is hoping we all can imbibe Einstein’s attitude in handling the mistakes of our lives…vikas

26 Replies to “Mishtooks Galore”

  1. Hi VS:

    My admiration of your every blog starts with the selection of title itself !
    And this one is no exception!
    As I have often mentioned, your ability to think of a topic is amazing and can be compared with something valuable coming out of a magician’s hat!!

    The topic took me to school days when an answer sheet of an exam carried RED CROSSES ,with a ‘0’ in a circle!
    As long as it was a quarterly or a mid term test, one tried to take those red marks in the right spirit ,to prepare for the FINAL exam. A positive approach to the failures/mistakes ,instilled by parents at an early age can become a big asset for an individual in facing failures at later stages in life.

    At another level, a mistake should normally be followed by “ I am sorry”.
    Such honest expressions are becoming rare these days.
    Your candid description of various events belongs to that rarity !!

    Will Putin or Zelenskyy ever say “Sorry” for the ongoing war?
    It is so tragic that their mistakes are causing thousands of lives and huge problems for the whole world

    Obviously, the biggest stumbling block in saying “sorry” is an individual’s ego.
    Who winks first!!

    The nuclear attack of Japan ..wasn’t it a mistake?

    The history is full of such horrific mistakes !

    While we ,as individuals, tend to learn from mistakes, the world does not seem to take lessons from the history.
    And that is the unfortunate reality we live in!

    Surly, any of these observations does not take away the value of your messaging through this superb blog!

    Well done VS

    Continue the good work!


    1. Jagdish bhai
      You are always so kind
      I do not know about the “magic” part but most of my inspiration comes when I am walking in the morn, typically 530 types, and i am mulling over life
      things that bother me, questions i cannot immediately answer stick in my mind and i tend to use these as my topics
      frankly when I think more and find quotes and pictures around the theme, actually helps me clarify my thoughts and actually speak to the way I develop the topic
      am not a very organised person ( and you know that well) so many topics have slipped away
      I get questions and quotes as flashes and next day when I try to recollect what had flashed in my mind the earlier day, it is a total blank
      try as I may, the topic or quotes do not come back
      I keep telling myself that I must make an immediate note on my mobile
      but I remember that only the next time I forget another thought/idea!!!
      so there are many “brilliant” blogs which have not seen the light of the day as I forgot what I was thinking of
      I console myself that it must have not been very good, else I would have remembered!!!

      I agree with you about the school experiences as learning from parents to try again, try harder
      mistakes and learning is an integral part of life
      so it is said, if you have not regretted something in the past 1 day, check your pulse….you may be dead!!
      History is indeed replete with examples of colossal goofs…the atomic bombing, Vietnam War, the present Russian crisis
      these are certainly matters of serious concern
      but for us common folks they lie outside our realm of influence
      so my focus has always been…do what I can do
      and leave the rest
      Am sure Life has a rhythm of its own and hopefully things will right themselves
      the loss in the immediate future, being avoidable, is indeed painful

      Thanks again for your perceptive comments


  2. Dear vikas
    This is another piece of brilliant write up….
    It is very much necessary to learn from mistakes and that way it makes u perfect….
    Many organisations understand that decision making will not always be perfect and mistakes are bound to happen ,however few bosses do t accept any mistakes and at the end ,they are left with people /subordinate who don’t take decision and procrastinate which at the end leads to down fall of such organisation


    1. Harish
      many thanks for your kind words of encouragement
      Failures and mistakes should be seen as feedback as to what you need to do differently
      Unfortunately throughout our growing up period parents and teachers have told us to avoid mistakes
      Mistakes were considered bad and should be avoided at all costs.
      I think this is the genesis of our mindset of hiding mistakes when we grow up and that is multiplied in an organizational context
      I remember Siemens and General Motors where leaders came on deputation from Germany or USA for a short period and in their tenure, they wanted all things to look hunky-dory. Many a mistake was thus swept under the carpet and learnings were lost. Everyone’s effort was to show a clean slate, sans mistakes, and so we all were in a maintenance mode, never any experimentation or doing things differently. Because of the deep pockets of these MNCs these co.s continued.


  3. Dear Vikas, Good morning and a fabulous and thought provoking message. I am not sure that standing up for one’s beliefs , even in retrospect is a mistake. However, not realizing the consequences and not making a conscious choice keeping the desired outcome maybe a mistake but not necessarily so as I think the wisdom comes with age and experience. And maybe belief vs relationships is an extremely difficult choice and and having to choose one is possibly an unfair one. Is it mistake? Possibly not. Difficult to choose between two good options. In retrospect, my belief about what is more important may have changed and it becomes a mistake only in retrospect!! So your emphasis on learning is so very true. Mistakes also help you grow! If your have learnt well! Would I do something even if I knew it was a mistake? Maybe yes, sometimes. So the context possibly also defines whether something is a mistake, I feel. The same act might be seen as a mistake in one context and may not be seen as a mistake in another context. Your thoughts always catalyze so may thoughts in me and force me to think. Thank you for that


    1. VJ
      many thanks for your perceptive comments. You raise some very good points to think about
      Mistakes, like most things in life, are not absolute. The timing. The context. Your thinking. All bear on it and I agree the conclusions can be different. I only feel sad to see so many people stuck in their perspective and being miserable. They are not ready to understand the importance of letting go and moving on. Take the lesson and move FW in life will help us remain positive and oriented to tomorrow rather than stuck in our yesterdays.
      Sometimes consciously one makes a mistake. It could be strategic and thought out approach. All life’s battles are not about winning: sometimes one must enjoy the humility and reprimand even that a mistake brings.
      Finally it is indeed a game of experiences. More you have, the better you would be.

      Thank you for taking the time to write in. Your words mean a lot to me and I thrive on this encouragement


      1. Thank you Vikas. I agree with you. We all make mistakes but we need not get stuck with them. The ability to become aware, accept and move on is critical. That is also what resilience is all about. Thanks for being provocative in your writing. I enjoy that


      2. VJ
        bacche ko rualoge kya?
        I have been a black sheep in the family and always been blasphemous and iconoclastic
        So provocation is my middle name
        It requires confidence and a good soul like yours to accept and compliment provocateurs
        thanks for your friendship

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Perfectly boss.. make mistakes learnt what will skips and next u make perfection so.. every mistakes u capable to do new things without eroor ….


  5. Thanks Vikas for sharing an excellent write up
    Many aspects learnt including the levels, historical occurrences and also the personal choice plus various reflections
    Keep writing n educating us


  6. Loved reading it Sir. Gave me confidence to make more mistakes and if course learn from it ,,,..


  7. Dear vikasdada
    A very happy new year to you.
    Liked the blog .Topic chosen is very good. As i keep on telling my students “please speak up ,answer ..if you don’t dare to answer…you won’t know whether it is right or wrong ….” Unless and until we make mistakes,we won’t learn . This fact you have explained so well with so many examples .
    Loved it ..will send the link to Madhura and Tanmaya


    1. Charu
      HNY to you all at KLP
      Glad you liked it and found it relevant
      in today’s times speaking up is very imp as otherwise you do not know what you are missing
      hope your students understand this imp life skill

      Do send to Madhura n Tanmaya
      Hope they both are doing well in their chosen fields
      BEst wishes for 2023 for both of them

      Regards to Sunil
      he is a good man
      hold him close to your heart
      they don’t make such nice people any more

      How are Sashi kaka and Suresh
      regards to them too


  8. Very well articulated Vikas…it is rightly said we are judges for others mistakes and advocates of our own mistakes. We need to develop the attitude of owning…this will take us to the next level and help us gain more respect. Good topic to start the new year. Never too late to start learning….thanks for sharing


    1. Thanks Col Venkat for your feedback
      Judges of others and advocates for ourselves is certainly something we must avoid
      since mistakes are so ubiquitous I agree it is a good topic to start 2023
      Best Wishes to you and yours for the new year


  9. Very well thought article. This can come only with lot of experience in the life. It should help leaders. They should take the decisions whether it is correct or not. Human cannot be right always. There is only one who is perfect is what we call GOD. Thank you so much Vikas sir. Its very interesting. I liked it. Please keep enlighten us.


    1. Thanks a lot Vinod for your kind words Yes Experience comes from mistakes and Mistakes give you more experience. I have lived a full life and enjoyed both. Thanks a ton for your words of encouragement


  10. Very well thought article. This can come only with lot of experience in the life. It should help leaders. They should take the decisions whether it is correct or not. Human cannot be right always. There is only one who is perfect is what we call GOD. Thank you so much Vikas sir. Its very interesting. I liked it. Please keep enlighten us.


  11. Dear Vikas dada,

    Happy new year! An apt post to begin the year with as everyone is reflecting on the past year and evaluating on what worked and what did not 🙂

    Mistakes are decisions / actions. And whether a decision is right or wrong, can be known only in hindsight. But its important to take a decision and ACT at that point in time. A wrong decision becomes a mistake or an experience.

    A beautiful conclusion to the post indeed. Embrace and acknowledge your mistakes, mourn them for a while and then burn them to the ground to start with a clean slate!
    A very healthy attitude.

    P.S. – I liked that you shared about your personal regret of not undergoing a vedic wedding ceremony.


    1. Neelambari
      thanks for your comment. And a very very happy 2023 to you too.
      Indeed a good time to look at the past, think of your future, and keep a score card. Even Sachin does not score 100 every time he comes to bat. We all have to learn and play the game the best we can. And ensure our batting average is moving upwards, do better than last time.
      As a line manager I had to take lots and lots of decisions and I used to always tell my team: No decision is right or wrong. How you manage the aftermath, the consequences of the decision, will determine the future course of action. Not taking any decision is is the only wrong decision. Play your card and manage the outcomes is the way to success.

      Yes I do regret hurting Ranju Mama and admire him for his maturity in letting go and carrying on. a la Amitabh in K3G…bus keh nahi saka. Thus is life


  12. Vikas

    Excellent blog.. as usual thought provoking.

    The moot point:

    What is a mistook?

    Is it something that is the result of a wrong policy but with gainful results


    Is it something which is the result of right actions with inconvenient consequences?



    1. Nikhil bhai
      Your Comments make my Blog feel welcome into the Big Bad World. Thanks for the support and affection

      What is a Mishtook? A million Dollar Question. The actions we take and their outcomes are so unpredictable and also so interactive that cause & effect are often intermeshed.

      Wrong Policy…mistake. But Gainful results may give a diff spin to the beneficiary.
      Right actions with indeterminate outcomes could cause disenchantment & force abandoning the Right Actions. Is that a Mistake?
      Valid and Fundamental challenge and I feel each one of us may conclude differently.
      As long as Good & Bad, Right & Wrong are not absolutes but relative, this conundrum will remain
      And idiots like me will go on yapping and chewing at the priphery as the germane remains beyond reach


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