Mistakes Can Lead To Greatness

By: Tania Staley


“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” –Tony Robbins


Fear is a paralyzer. It can keep you from realizing your dreams, achieving success, or building worthwhile relationships. One of the biggest causes of fear is the worry of making mistakes. No one wants to be a failure, but mistakes are a part of life. Many wise thinkers have even argued that doing so is a necessary way of learning. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. To fully succeed in life, we have to be bold and brave.  Here are three examples of people who didn’t let the fear of making mistakes stop them:


J.K. Rowling

There is hardly a child who has not encountered Rowling’s books, but the world of Harry Potter was not easily created. It is hard to imagine a world without the fantasy and whimsy of these books, but without Rowling’s tenacity, this could have been the case. Rowling received numerous rejections before a publisher accepted her work. Other authors who encountered similar rejection include Stephen King, J.D. Salinger, and H.G. Wells. These are just a few of the literary greats who overcame rejection and blessed the literary world with their writing.


Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be the one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived. His contributions to innovation, science, and art are numerous. However, he made many mistakes throughout his life. He often started too many projects at once and left a number of them unfinished. His technique for painting The Last Supper was a failure because the paint began to flake. Today, hardly a brushstroke is left of his original work. Da Vinci made many mistakes in his pursuits of discovery. Without them, though, one could argue that his brilliance would not have been realized.


Howard Florey and Ernst Chain

We attribute the discovery of penicillin to Andrew Fleming, but without the persistence of Florey and Chain, we might not have this life-saving medicine. The discovery of penicillin came from Fleming making two mistakes. First, he forgot to sterilize the plates he was using in his lab. Second, he left the windows open. When he came back, he found mold on the plates. This was the first step that led to the creation of penicillin. Fleming wasn’t able to produce enough to be used as medicine, however, and gave up on the project. Luckily, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain continued his work.  They had several failures before finally creating a form of penicillin that could be safely used to kill bacteria in people. Without their ability to accept mistakes and take chances, we would never have had penicillin and many lives would continue to be lost due to illness. 


The examples of people who have made mistakes and overcome them to achieve greatness are numerous. Mistakes are a necessary part of life. We often learn the most from the mistakes we have made. It is how we learn and grow as people. So next time you let fear try to stop you, remember those who overcame failure and know that you can do it too. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, instead, be afraid of a life unlived.