A mistake might not be a mistake. You might think you should have done this or shouldn't have done that. But it would be better to ask what advantages your already-done deeds give you and exploit them in the present.
The architect Bonano erected a freestanding
bell tower for a cathedral, but he made it on soft subsoil — a bad
mistake which made the tower lean over. That mistake created a large
tourist industry and put the town on the map. Almost everyone in the
world has heard of the leaning tower of Pisa. Galileo conducted his
famous gravity experiments from the tower. He was able to use that tower
because it was leaning.
The compass and its use in
navigation was developed in the Mediterranean because the sailors had
several disadvantages: the water was very deep, the winds varied a lot
in the winter, and the skies were usually overcast. So you couldn't
reliably navigate by sounding, by the wind, or by the stars. Those were
the three ways sailors all over the world used to navigate.
the Indian oceans, they have the monsoon winds which are so regular
(they change directions with the seasons) you could tell where you were
headed by noticing which way the wind was blowing. And they had clear
tropical skies so they could usually navigate by the stars.
Northern Europe, they are on one of the continental shelves of the
Atlantic so the water is shallow enough sailors could drop a lead weight
attached to a rope to the sea floor to find their depth, and thus could
tell where they were by how deep the water was. This was called "making
a sounding," and it was a fairly accurate method of locating one's
position in charted waters.
But the sailors of the
Mediterranean had to develop some way to navigate without shallow
waters, clear skies, or predictable winds. And because they had to
develop navigation by compass, Spain, which borders both the Atlantic
and the Mediterranean, was the first to find and colonize the New World.
Without having the know-how to navigate by compass, nobody in their
right mind would have sailed across the Atlantic. There would have been
no guarantee they'd be able to find their way back without a compass.
They'd have no familiar landmarks, no soundings would work, wind
directions would of course be unknown, and whether or not they'd have
clear skies was unknown.
The disadvantage of having to sail the waters of the Mediterranean turned out to be quite an advantage for Spain.
of course, given the mind's natural negative bias, I'm sure most people
of Spain assumed their sailing conditions were only a disadvantage.
what are you going to do with what you think is a disadvantage? What
are you doing now? Aren't there things in your life right now that you
consider a disadvantage? Aren't there conditions you "know" are bad?
That you wish would go away?
Choose one of these bad
things and ponder this question about it: Could this be an advantage in
disguise? Or could I make an advantage out of it? If you don't want to
ponder this for weeks, do a little concentrated pondering. Use the
problem solving method. Write the question at the top of a piece of
paper, "What is good about this?" And force yourself to come up with 15
answers. Write them all out.
Then take another piece of
paper. At the top write, "How could I turn this into an advantage?"
Make yourself come up with 15 more answers. At the end of this exercise,
which will only take you an hour or two, your perspective on the
"problem" will be tremendously altered. The "problem" will have lost
most of its power to bring you down. This process can undemoralize you.
It can give you strength and effectiveness and even good feelings.
Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English).