On mistakes.

Mistakes are sometimes avoidable errors.

Those who make no mistakes are making the biggest mistakes of all — they are attempting nothing new.
Anthony de Mello, One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 20.

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), Mr. Dumby, Act III.

After it is all over, as stupid a fellow as I am can see that mistakes were made. I notice, however, that my mistakes are never told me until it is too late.
Robert E. Lee, quoted in Randall Bedwell’s May I Quote You General Lee? (New York: Gramercy Books, 2002), p. 63.

Mistakes are the inevitable lot of mankind.
Sir George Jessel, In re Taylor’s Estate (1882) 22 Ch.D. 495, 503.

There is no mistake; there has been no mistake; and there shall be no mistake.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Wellingtoniana (1832).

It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.
Muhammad, Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1011.

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery.
James Joyce, Ulysses (1922), ch. 9: Scylla and Charybdis.

Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.
Pearl S. Buck, What America Means to Me (1943).

We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
Samuel Smiles, 19th C Scottish author and reformer. ‘Self-Culture: facilities and Difficulties’, Self-Help (1856), Ch 11

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
John Ruskin, Modern Painters (1856), Volume IV, part V, chapter III, section 22.

Let go the lure The striving to unmake;

Behold the truth Whenever heart may ache There is a glory In a great mistake.
Nathalia Crane, “Imperfection”, Swear By the Night and Other Poems (1936).

My heartache, is my mistake you see.
Ed Harcourt, “God Protect Your Soul”, Here Be Monsters (2001).

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
Al Franken, Oh, the Things I Know (2003)

America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
Sigmund Freud, to Ernest Jones (“Amerika ist ein Fehler, zugegeben ein gigantischer Fehler, aber nichtsdestotrotz ein Fehler”).

And certainly it was not wrong to try to secure freedom for our citizens held in barbaric captivity. But we did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so. We will get to the bottom of this, and I will take whatever action is called for.
Ronald Reagan, Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union, January 27th, 1987.

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.
G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News (1924-04-19).

A man looking at a hippopotamus may sometimes be tempted to regard a hippopotamus as an enormous mistake; but he is also bound to confess that a fortunate inferiority prevents him personally from making such mistakes.
G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, Ch. 10, “The Great Dickens Characters”.

The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
Frank Lloyd Wright, New York Times Magazine (4 October 1953); sometimes paraphrased as “A doctor” in place of “The physician”.

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions — especially selfish ones.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “Peace and Violence” (1973).

The state sometimes makes mistakes. When one of these mistakes occurs, a decline in collective enthusiasm is reflected by a resulting quantitative decrease of the contribution of each individual, each of the elements forming the whole of the masses. Work is so paralysed that insignificant quantities are produced. It is time to make a correction.
Che Guevara, Man and Socialism in Cuba (1965).

Any military commander who is honest with himself, or with those he’s speaking to, will admit that he has made mistakes in the application of military power. He’s killed people unnecessarily — his own troops or other troops — through mistakes, through errors of judgment. A hundred, or thousands, or tens of thousands, maybe even a hundred thousand. But, he hasn’t destroyed nations. And the conventional wisdom is don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from your mistakes. And we all do. Maybe we make the same mistake three times, but hopefully not four or five. They’ll be no learning period with nuclear weapons. You make one mistake and you’re going to destroy nations.
Robert McNamara, The Fog of War (2003).

Other kings let their ministers make their mistakes for them, but Louis insisted on making the important mistakes personally.
Will Cuppy, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (1950), Part IV: A Few Greats, Louis XIV.

Kosa moja haliachi mke.
Swahili proverb; Idiomatic Translation: “One mistake isn’t reason enough to leave your wife”; Literal Meaning: A single mistake should be met with forgiveness, not condemnation.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia.

She had an unequalled gift, especially pen in hand, of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities.
Henry James, “Greville Fane”, from The Real Thing: and Other Tales (1893).

There are two kinds of mistakes. There are fatal mistakes that destroy a theory; but there are also contingent ones, which are useful in testing the stability of a theory.
Gian-Carlo Rota (with Fabrizio Palombi), Indiscrete Thoughts (1997), p. 202.

Hell, that’s why they make erasers.
Clarence Darrow, reported in Irving Stone, Clarence Darrow for the Defense (1941), p. 75.

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
E. J. Phelps, Speech at Mansion House, 24th January 1899.

Life, like war, is a series of mistakes; and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victory out of mistakes.
Frederick William Robertson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 117.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
John Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love (1990), p. 85.

The important thing in my view is not to pin the blame for a mistake on somebody, but rather to find out what caused the mistake.
Akio Morita (b.1921). Made in Japan, (1987), p. 149

Everyone thinks I’m a smart arse who can solve any bloody problem. I’m not. I’m just a very old businessman and a very experienced businessman who made every mistake in the book and can recognise one when I see one.
Sir John Harvey-Jones (1924-2008), British businessman. Article on his life in The Telegraph (UK) newspaper, 10th Jan 2008.

An old error is always more popular than a new truth.
German Proverb

Always make new mistakes.
Esther Dyson

There are only two mistakes one can make on the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s