Embracing Growth Means Embracing Mistakes

comfort zone growth points growth zone mistakes Aug 24, 2023
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
I learned a new term at physical therapy this week. Error augmentation. It's an approach to therapy supported by brain science research that really is the fancy term for the intuitive belief that we learn from our mistakes. And since we learn from mistakes, we should intentionally increase our opportunities to make mistakes. That's what the word augment means...to add to or increase.
Doesn't that seem crazy? My natural instinct is to avoid or be embarrassed when I make mistakes. However, the way to grow is not to avoid mistakes but to intentionally increase the likelihood that we will make mistakes in the direction of desired growth. This leads to change and growth at the root, in the brain itself, not just in the behaviors.
When our brains stay in the comfort zone, we don't grow. From a brain perspective, staying in the comfort zone and repeating old familiar patterns conserves energy and resources for other important things. Good job brain! But, if the priority is growth and healing, and in my case stroke recovery, then it is necessary to push outside of the comfort zone. And pushing outside of the comfort zone always means making errors.
I'll give you a specific example. When I try and pick up and put down a cup of water with my right hand, I will spill it. My natural brain says "Then don't do it with your right hand, silly. Just do it with your left hand." My therapist brain, focused on error augmentation, says to strap a weight around my wrist, to turn on some loud music to distract my brain, and then do it 10 times with my right hand. That's how the comfort zone turns into the growth zone. That means I will likely have to wipe up a lot of water from the spills I make, but it is going to trigger "neuroplasticity" within my brain. That's a neuro nerd word for "it will make my brain grow and I will learn how to do what I currently cannot do." If I keep practicing consistently, 6 months from now I will likely be able to pick up and put down that cup just fine without spilling the water.
This applies to all of us in any area of growth in our lives. Yes, we improved by small steps, and I may try the weight for a couple of days and then add in the loud music to set myself up for success. But, the point is that we can do a lot more than our brains want us to believe we can. We can grow a lot more than our natural man wants us to believe we can. We can change relationship patterns, improve physical health, and strengthen our ability to ask good questions and discern answers from the Lord.
How? By embracing growth wholeheartedly. By embracing mistakes wholeheartedly. By seeing our errors not as evidence that we are not good enough, but as the very fuel our brains need to grow.
Mistakes are not the opposite of success. They are the building blocks that lead to success!
So how will you fail gloriously today? And can you see those errors with a smile?  Embracing growth means embracing mistakes and loving every step of the journey!
Now, perfection is never expected. As amusing as it is, we will probably have to learn from our mistakes about learning from our mistakes. You won't see the fruits of this today, but you can plant the seed of it today and nurture it as we grow slowly together.
Maybe you aren't in a place to ask yourself how you will fail gloriously. Maybe journaling about the question, "How do I feel about making mistakes?" is your growth point right now. Honor where you are, press forward gently to the sun/Son, and growth will come.