Make Mistakes, Don’t Repeat Mistakes

In our QBQ! Facebook Group, this question generated terrific discussion: 

“Is the real problem for most people making one mistake or repeating the same mistake?”

The next day, a longtime friend of QBQ! Steve Crawford of Crawford Trucking sent us this story. Enjoy!

John, as you know, I own a trucking firm that I started in 1991. Early on, due to some mistakes, we had serious financial, credit, and debt problems. We worked through them to the point where we were doing well, but did not have an additional source of operating capital.

Meanwhile, I became friends with a man named Wii Chang. He came to America in 1985. He would say to me; “Steve, very important you know this: I come here with no money and no English.” He liked for people to know that about him.

He had immigrated to this country with his wife, daughter, and son to pursue the “American dream.” He put himself through school, earned a Masters in finance, and was successful in running a couple of Chinese restaurants, along with several significant real estate investments. I frequently ate at one of his locations—the one with a big enough parking lot to accommodate my semi. 😉

Anyway, at one point, I was able to borrow money for equipment, secured with hard assets, but still needed more operating capital for a cushion. However, it was impossible to get an unsecured loan. At lunch one day, I asked Chang if he could refer me to a bank that might take on some risk with my business. He asked me how much I needed. I told him $5,000. He told me to wait a minute, and went to his office.

He returned with a fistful of cash and laid out fifty $100 bills on the table. He then took a paper napkin and wrote; “I owe Chang $5,000” — and had me sign it. And that was that!

I paid him back with interest in one year.

Now for the rest of the story ……

Years later, I thanked him again for helping me at a time when I really needed help. His comment was this: “Steve, very important you know this: You stuck in mud. I help you out. But you now not ever jump back in mud!” 

Making mistakes is not always bad. Repeating them, however, is foolish. I won’t claim I’ve never repeated a mistake, but Chang’s comment that I should “not jump back in mud” brings a smile to my face every time I think about it!

Great wisdom from a mentor and a friend.

Sounds like Steve has learned a great deal along the way — and that is outstanding! Mistakes help us do that.

So, are you willing to make mistakes and wise enough to not repeat those mistakes? Comments welcome!

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2 Responses

  1. John –
    Early in my career I worked for a Chicago bank in consumer credit. I screwed up loaning money to a customer who was trying to defraud the bank. Thankfully my boss saw the potential fraud and stopped it before the bank lost any money. He called me into his office and explained my mistake in detail. Then he told me to go out and make more mistakes, just not the same one! I have never forgotten his wisdom, and the fact he let me know he still had confidence in my abilities. Mistakes are learning experiences and should be treated as such as long as the lesson is well understood.

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