I think it’s extremely rare that you make a mistake that you can’t correct. Rare, but not impossible.
Maybe a small handful of times in your life will you do something that you truly can’t undo and wish you could. A mistake that actually has some real impact. Now, first and foremost you have to just accept that fact – you can lose a lot of extra ground by dwelling too long on the immutability of time and history. Don’t dwell. But you should learn!
Now, here’s the question I’m grappling with – let’s say the mistake can’t be undone, and because of the extremely rare nature of the event, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter it again. So you can’t fix the mistake, and “learning” from it may be moot to some degree. In those instances, what I’d like to do is bottle the wisdom gained from it and pass it on; to help prevent others from making that same mistake.
What’s the best way to do that?
To use an extreme hypothetical example: let’s say one day you’re fishing and an alligator tries to take your lunch. Instead of just letting him take it, you try to fight for your ham sandwich – and you lose a hand. Now, that’s a pretty big mistake and there’s no going back. That hand is gone, and your life is definitely different. Gaining the wisdom “don’t try to fight an alligator for your lunch, it’s not worth it” isn’t doing you much good, but it could have a high degree of impact on the next person!
So how do you get information like that to people that don’t already have it? It seems simple to just show people your missing hand and tell them, but I’ve found that people rarely listen to that sort of advice. But I don’t think trying to improve the lives of others is a lost cause.
We can hand lessons over to our children, but they have to learn a lot of lessons on their own. In fact, it’s essential that they do, for their own growth. As a parent, the challenge is just making sure they only learn lessons the hard way if “the hard way” doesn’t mean losing a hand.