“This Lady’s not for turning” was a memorable statement made by Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister – and it heralded the beginning of her downfall.
We see it time and time again in politics – especially in politics.
And in sport, in business, in military affairs, in everyday life . . .
You see, for some reason ‘changing your mind’ is seen to be in some way ‘wrong’ or a ‘bad’ thing to do.
When public figures do it, they are accused by the press of ‘making a humiliating U-turn’ when in fact they have usually, due to changing circumstances or the revelation of new information, made the choice of making a change in direction.
The first decision that you or I make according to a certain situation and objective may well be the right decision at the time – but changes in the ‘environment’ frequently dictate a change in direction and a new decision.
Making a new or revised choice is not a humiliation but a positive and strong decision.
Leaders who change their minds according to what’s going on around them are far better than those who stubbornly stick to their original decision, often heading for disaster.
Sadly, we see examples of this every day.
The thing is that ‘changing your mid’ does not mean that you’ve ‘made a mistake’.
After all, what is a mistake?
A ‘mis-take’ or a mis-understanding, a mis-conception – anything, anytime where you ‘mis out’ on something – maybe as simple as taking a catch in cricket – a mis-take.
But then there’s this common concept that making a mistake is in some way ‘wrong’ and to be avoided.
A ‘mistake’ is only ever the result of a choice.
A choice in itself is neutral, never wrong or right. It’s the results of the choices you and I make that we have to consider.
If the choice turns out to make matters worse in some way or not to make matters better, then it gets labelled aa s mistake.
It’s interesting that there isn’t a word to describe the opposite of a mistake – if things work out well there is often very little reward or praise coming from outside.
If a politician makes a good decision, then it gets glossed over while the media wait to pounce on their next ‘mistake’.
(Unless of course it’s one of those humiliating U-turns!)
What people don’t understand is that so-called mistakes are generally useful. They are about learning.
If we try something that ‘doesn’t work’ then although some might see it as a ‘mistake’, you and I see it as part of the learning process.
We just learned that a particular way of doing something doesn’t achieve the result we are looking for – so provided we remember that and learn from our ‘mistake’, we can move forward, learn and grow.
Throughout the course of my life I’ve made lots of ‘mistakes’, tried lots of things that ‘didn’t work’, and as a result changed my approach, my attitude, and my whole understanding of myself.
This process hasn’t slowed down, because as I grow and become comfortable with myself I expand my ‘comfort zone’ continuously exploring new boundaries, new horizons, new ways of being.
Or at least new to me. Whatever you and I explore is already there, it’s just that we’ve not yet discovered it.
Everything in the Universe has already been created and has already happened, including the ‘future’ – it “is, was, and ever shall be”, and you and I just have to discover or realise it – and we do this through the choices we make.
And sometimes, when we do find we’re on a path that we don’t want to travel, or no longer need to travel, then we have to make a turn off that path onto another path, sometimes even a U-turn to backtrack to where we can change direction.
This journey through life is all about choices. We don’t make mistakes in life, just choices, and those choices lead us in a particular direction towards a particular goal.
The real mistake is not to keep on making choices. To be ‘set in concrete’ or ‘cast in stone’ about who we are.
To doggedly pursue goals or policies that are no longer relevant because we’re afraid of being ‘humiliated’ if we change our mind, make a new choice, follow a different path which may of course be that U-turn.
After all, if you’re walking towards the edge of a cliff you don’t just carry on until you fall, do you?
Only if you find yourself unable for some reason to make a new choice to stop or go back.
Are there any goals you want or need to change?
Are there any life policies you need to alter?
Are there any new choices you need to make about who you are, who you want to be, do and have?
Are there any U-turns you need to make?