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14 July, 2021

Mistakes. Make them but learn from them

EVERY single day I drive over one of the bridges to cross the Pioneer River and I have to say, even on the dreariest day, it is a sight which grounds me and settles my thoughts. But there is one bridge in town I drive over and have a wee giggle to myself, reliably caught by a memory of an unintentional faux pas (on my part) which caused terrible community uproar.

By Meredith Papas

EVERY single day I drive over one of the bridges to cross the Pioneer River and I have to say, even on the dreariest day, it is a sight which grounds me and settles my thoughts.

But there is one bridge in town I drive over and have a wee giggle to myself, reliably caught by a memory of an unintentional faux pas (on my part) which caused terrible community uproar.

Now, consider that this was back in the very late 90s, Facebook wasn’t a thing, to SMS was still a relatively novel thing, email wasn’t as prolific as it is now, and people (gasp!) still put pen to paper (yes, literally!) to write a letter to the editor.

But by crikey! They got in touch, they let me know.

I was abhorred for being a local girl and getting THIS so wrong!

What did I do, you might ask?

I incorrectly called the Forgan Bridge the Forgan-Smith Bridge.

And to this day I think of that – and the kerfuffle it caused – as I drive over that bridge.

The mistake was an innocent one (justify, justify!), and I made it because back then it was so often referred to as Forgan-Smith in general conversation. (I won’t go into the reasons or history here, but suffice to say, these days we can now Google it, right!?)

But, whatever! I made the mistake and not even the keeper caught that wide ball. It was my error to own and my cross to bear – apparently!

For the day my boo-boo made it to the paper, I was called, I was emailed, I had those little message slips (remember those?) from the admin team with names, numbers and admonishments jotted on them from people, calling in, of whom I’d never known or heard of.

Importantly, I learnt from my mistake. Not just about the name of that one bridge, but that I cannot always rely on what people tell me and that I ought not just take things as said/ read/assumed.

Something I have drummed into my kids is to reject – or at least question – the thing that is ‘just ‘coz’.

Certainly, one of my mantras is “it is what it is”, but to go through life ‘just coz’-ing, you are closing the opportunity to question and challenge. The difference is subtle but real.

There will always be the slips and the mistakes; the lapses in judgement and the plain get-it-wrong moments.

But the key is to own them, learn from them and move on – being better for the experience.

Whether you look at it in the micro sense of every single moment of every single day, or in the macro sense of a community taking ownership and responsibility (and the bull by the horns) in the sense of maximising opportunity – there is an empowerment which comes from having learnt from past misadventure and making good. Our region is a perfect example.

With so many businesses looking for skilled workers, with downward cost pressures being applied across many of our industries, now is the time to check our capacity and ability to learn from the past and better our previous responses.

Never should we strive for perfection.

But the best thing about mistakes is that there is the chance for growth and improvement – and some incredible innovation.

Be it personally or on a bigger scale. The measure of benefit that can come from growth and improvement is commensurate only with our willingness to own our mistakes, learn and act accordingly in the future.  


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