You Can Only Make Mistakes If You Try

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

This weekend, we took the motorhome for a drive. I’d like to tell you we spent the weekend relaxing in some exotic campground, surrounded by nature’s beauty. But the truth is, all we did was drive it back to the dealer for some repairs. Yes, it’s only two months old. Apparently, the people in the factory get in a hurry sometimes and … well, you know.

I knew this before we even went shopping. When you take something with all the features of a house and bounce it down the road, some things settle and others work their way loose. New RVs are notorious for this. Which means it’s not really the RV or the miles bouncing down the road or anything like that. It’s what happens in the factory on Friday afternoon. “Miller time!”

For instance, I turned on the XM radio to find there’s no signal. Apparently the antenna never got hooked up. One of the dash fans didn’t get wired up. And the cover to the wiring panel is lying loose in the electrical bay. These things don’t happen from the road. They happen simply because somebody was in a hurry and didn’t quite finish the job.

It’s funny, when I do that it’s simply a matter of oversight. I was so focused on the job that I missed one minor detail. Give me a minute and I’ll fix it. No big deal. Unless I’m putting new brakes on the car. Then it gets to be a little more serious. But most of those spare parts aren’t needed anyway. Besides, all brakes make that sound when they’re new. Trust me.

I’ve had this conversation with my wife more than once. She’s never there when I’m taking the car apart or splitting my knuckles and smashing my thumb as I gingerly fit stubborn parts together with a six-pound sledgehammer. But the minute I finish, she’s right there inspecting the box of old (and new) parts I’m getting ready to throw away. And she doesn’t miss a thing.

We all tend to cut ourselves some slack when we’ve done the best we can and still miss the mark. But when somebody else is doing the work, we’re not so forgiving. My grandson cut the grass Saturday. He even bagged up all the clippings. It looks great. Except that one spot in the corner of the driveway by the garage. Yes, I pointed it out. He said he’ll get it the next time.

Which is why the RV is sitting outside a service bay at the dealership. Somebody missed a few things, we pointed them out when we took delivery, and they said, “We’ll fix that when you bring it back in.” Who says I want to bring it back in? And I have to be honest. It’s a small list, and nothing of any real significance. Overall, they did a really good job. At least the brakes work.

It’s easy to spot the mistakes in somebody else’s work. We’re good at that. It’s even worse when the job is being done correctly, just not the way you’d do it yourself. “Why are you mowing the grass that way? It’s better if you just go back and forth!” I don’t even watch anymore. I just listen for screams. As long as he can finish with both feet intact, we’re good.

And you know, sometimes we need to be equally forgiving of ourselves. There are things I do every day that I wish I’d done a little differently. As a writer, I don’t like going back to read things I’ve previously written because invariably I find things I could have expressed differently. Not necessarily better – just different. And the more you tweak it, the more you mess it up.

We shouldn’t hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves, and the same is true in reverse. Perfection is an elusive and impossible goal. Sure, we should try to be the best we can, and we should expect the same of others. But that means accepting mistakes graciously – ours, and theirs.

Pick up the pieces and move on. If the Notre Dame can suffer such a devastating fire and be restored to its original glory, there’s not much in our lives we can’t fix. Dust yourself off, figure out what went wrong, and fix it. Your goals are still out there waiting. And every minute you spend crying over spilled milk is a minute you’re not moving toward them.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved