Mistakes Can Create Character

I love woodworking but I hate making mistakes.  One thing I’ve learned as a woodworker is that mistakes are inevitable. On one of my recent projects, I had the opportunity to turn a mistake into a life lesson.

Recently, one of my friends, Nasko Lazarov, asked me if he could hang out with me while I worked on building a new dining room table. My wife never picks easy designs on furniture because she thinks I can build anything. Well, the fact is that I will try anything! The day he came to help me, I was working on double pedestal legs for the table, which is no easy task doing things by hand, and being double, both table legs have to look the same. On my first leg, I cut too deep on my design on the band saw so I had to “adjust” my design. As I said, mistakes are inevitable but usually no one knows but me. This time, I had a spectator that saw I made a mistake, which gave me an opportunity to verbalize a woodworking lesson (or maybe I should say “justify” a mistake).

Over the following minutes, I began to develop a life lesson…

“In life, you will always make mistakes but it is how you adjust to those mistakes will determine what the end result will be. The way we handle our mistakes will determine our character.”

If you can adjust correctly, your end result can be as good as or better than your first plan and adds character that sometimes only you can appreciate. When I initially made the cut too deep, I stopped cutting immediately and backed out of the cut, adjusted my pattern, and made the cut again. It turned out even better than I had originally planned. If I had continued the deeper cut, I would have had to probably scrap the whole piece and start over.

In life, it’s not a matter of if we make mistakes but when we do, how well do we manage the mistakes we've made. Sometimes, we can make adjustments and move on. Sometimes, we have to scrap the original and start over. Regardless, just like in woodworking, the mistakes we make create character, in our work and in our lives.

I hope that my mistake gives you an encouragement that the next time you make a mistake to stop, step back, and reflect on where things went wrong and “adjust” accordingly. See it as an opportunity to gain some experience and grow and build character!

Happy New Year!!!