Friday, April 12, 2019

Insight: The wisdom of Willie Nelson

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is true. We all make mistakes. However, there are moments when we might feel like we drown in constant oversights because we fumble more than “average” (whatever average is). 

For me, that has been this past week. It has been nothing but a big ball of errors – one right after
another. You know it’s a bad week when you write an email to your state senator apologizing for a badly written article that included him. And that’s just the beginning of my super blunder powers.

So, you can imagine my curiosity when I walked into Windham Primary School’s Kindergarten classroom to hear teacher, Jen Key, state to her students. “Our brains grow every time we make mistakes.” (Be sure to see the article on page 6 of The Windham Eagle Newspaper).

I must have a 200-pound brain by now. Is that the reason my neck aches?

I had to do some research to verify Key’s statement and I discovered a few things. There seems to be some scientific evidence that this is true. According to an online article by Barry Boyce on, there is, …..”slowly growing body of research [that] suggests our common aversion to failure is itself a failed strategy. Being curious about our mistakes is the royal road to learning.”

Boyce stated further that research, beginning in 2011, suggests that this aversion [mistakes are bad] can be a cause of poor learning habits. “The research suggested that those of us who have a “growth mindset”—believing that intelligence is malleable—pay more attention to mistakes and treat them as a wake-up call, a teachable moment. By contrast, those who adopt a “fixed mindset,” believing intelligence is static, shut down their brain in response to negative feedback, and thereby miss one of the key opportunities to learn.”

So, how does country singer, Willie Nelson fit into this story and provide the wisdom I needed? The email response I received from my cowboy boot wearing senator stated his reaction to my apology: “Not to worry - as the Willie Nelson songs goes, ‘I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong’.”

Recognizing when we make mistakes, admitting them and using them as teachable moments to educate ourselves is one way to move forward in life – using what we learn to become better at what we do, contributing to a more mindful approach to life.

What is the other possible way to move forward? Forgiveness. From yourself and – perhaps with a bit of groveling and gift certificates to Dunkin’ Donuts – forgiveness from others.

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