Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I have a shirt that I love… it’s so cozy and baggy and soft. When I wear it, I always get a positive comment about it—usually kids tell me it’s got “such a cool design” and adults tell me “wow- that looks like it’s from the 80s!”

You see, the shirt is this really pretty rose color and is speckled with bleached patches all over it. The patches are what people like the best. They like the pattern and the color.

And here is the thing about those patches… they weren’t there when I bought the shirt. That beautiful rose shirt was just a shirt. That is, until the day I was wearing it while cleaning the tub and accidentally dripped some of the cleaner onto it.  The bleach cleaner.

I watched in horror as the bleach stain immediately bloomed on my sleeve. I cursed at my stupidity in ruining one of my favorite shirts, and cursed at my perpetual clumsiness.  I bemoaned the fact that I was a complete and total idiot, and always, always mess things up.

But as I was looking at the blossoming stain, this mistake, it occurred to me that the coloration was pretty cool.  And then I got an IDEA.

So I took off the shirt, dropped the whole thing in the tub, and started squirting it all over with my bathroom cleaner.  Front and back, I laid it on thick.  Let it dry, tossed it in the wash, and presto… a brand new (better) shirt.     

I have a co-worker who is known for telling us that “mistakes are gifts.” And boy, is he right.

I could have looked at my mistake, thrown the shirt in the rag pile, and added to my story of all-the-ways-I-suck. Instead, I found the gift in the mistake.

I found the gift, and the shirt is better because of it.

How often are WE better when we are able to find the gifts in our mistakes?

And how often do we rob ourselves of that gift?

I know we know this, but I need constant reminding of it: I’m not a worthy human in spite of my mistakes. I’m a worthy human. Period. And my mistakes add to my beautiful humanity… they make me MORE human.  And “more human” is better.

More human is better.  I’ll take your more human any day.

So when you’re tempted to toss it aside, the next time you make a mistake be sure to look twice.. because maybe your mistake opened up a world of “better,” if only you just look twice.

How can you find the possibility within the mistake today?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.