Akshay Punnoose

Akshay Punnoose
Mrs. Lennon
Debate I
07 March 2013
Original Oratory Speech Final Draft
I still remember retrieving the crumbled piece of paper. I opened it up to find the most inspirational words that would stay with me for the rest of my life. It stated in plain black print “The errors that you make aren’t what count, but identifying them and resolving them do.” I turned the thin slip of paper around to see if it had anything else important to say. On the back I saw a more astounding message. “Lucky numbers: 13, 27, 45, 69.” If you didn’t understand, that slip of paper was from a Chinese fortune cookie. But my message isn’t regarding my Chinese food that day, or even about my terrible digestion afterwards. But it pertains to the idea that I found inside that fortune cookie. People make mistakes every day, some of them very minor, and some of them extremely harmful. From a very young age we are taught to always to do the right thing. Today, I am here to talk about how you can achieve the full potential from each of your mistakes. But before we head there I want to make clear why we hate mistakes, “blame-shifting”, and why mistakes actually are the stepping stones to happiness.
To begin with, from the moment we are born it is drilled into our heads that making a mistake isn’t right and is unacceptable and although this is true to a certain extent, these ideas aren’t as extreme as we see them to be. The negative connotation that we give mistakes overshadows and often doesn’t allow us to see the positive outcomes that we get from a mistake. Mistakes allow us to give better judgment in similar experiences that we’ve had before. Learning from our mistakes is an essential life skill that is required in order to insure a person’s success. In an article by psychologist Joe Freeman, he says that people are afraid of mistakes because of all the negative feedback that they get with it. For example, many parents nowadays no longer attempt to rectify the wrongs of their children, but instead reprimand them for the mistakes they have made. Each time we make a mistake, our inability to see the mistake as a learning experience hinders us from actually gaining the benefits of the experience.
In addition, in the same article by Psychologist Freeman, he explores people and how they actually move on to shifting the blame on other people and or things, or at least away from themselves. As bad as it sounds, this could range from framing a bank robbery on somebody innocent, or something as simple as making up an excuse for not doing your homework. By diverting the blame from us, we attempt to mitigate the consequences of our bad actions. Psychologist Louise Midas says that when “blame-shifting,” as he calls it, people don’t realize the full effect of what they’re and it gives them the impression that what they’re doing is ok. Without knowing what they’re doing isn’t ok, they will proceed to do the wrong thing and will be unable to make proper judgments without the experiences of their mistakes.
Furthermore, mistakes can be seen as the path to true happiness and success. Every time you do something that you love, adore, or even just normal every day activities, you have an experience. And inside that experience there are many mistakes and blunders that are common and not so common. Each time you make a mistake in something that you like to do, it becomes something that you can fix and make better. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed, but I have simply found 5,000 ways that don’t work.” He constantly made mistakes in his attempt to perfect his light bulb, but finally when he reached success, all of his mistakes paid off. The inevitable truth is that without the thousands of mistakes that he made, he would’ve never reached his world revolutionizing invention. Another prime example of someone who depicts this characteristic is well renowned basketball player Michael Jordan. Many of us today till regard Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan said “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” Although he was known as the best, he wasn’t so good in his younger days. In fact when he was in middle school, he ended getting cut from his school basketball team. It was a tragic moment for him and actually ran to his bedroom and locked himself in there and cried. If Jordan had decided to quit basketball because of his failure, he wouldn’t be the very successful person he is today. Jordan’s persistence and not wanting to give up basketball is what let him to become so successful. As we progress through our various blunders, our characteristic of perseverance and ability to never give up are fortified. These are skills that are essential in order to be truly successful and happy in the things that you wish to pursue in your life.
Now you’re thinking, “How do I make sure to receive the full value of my mistake, but yet minimize the issues taken from the experience?” The answer is simple: man up and take responsibility. When someone attempts to take full responsibility, they understand that what they are doing is not right and have a much higher tendency to actually stop doing what they’re doing. Now you’re probably thinking, “Wait, doesn’t taking full responsibility actually maximize my consequences?” No, when taking into consideration the long run, you have to see that it is important to fully learn your lesson from each mistake in order to insure that you won’t make it again. By experiencing the full discomfort of the consequences of your action, you can motivate yourself to do the right thing so you don’t have to ever go through that again. For example, by making an excuse for not doing your homework, you will never fully learn from your mistake. On the other hand, taking responsibility for not doing your homework and getting a 0 in the grade book, you can push yourself to get all of your work done next time because you know the consequences of your mistake and know that you don’t want to face them again. All you have to do, as the Old Spice commercials say is, “Be a man, man.”
In a certain case study, Professor Dweck observed the fact that teachers gave out compliments based on how smart a student is instead of the effort or struggle a child goes through in the process of understanding a specific concept. In the experiment, Dweck complimented 200 fifth graders, who performed well on a test, based on them being smart. And another group of 200 fifth graders, she complimented based on their hard work and effort. Then presented them with two tasks: one being hard, yet offering a great learning experience, and another that would be less interesting, but could be performed a lot better on. Surprisingly based on one sentence of praise, 90% of the group praised for their effort attempted the challenging learning experience, while a majority of the group praised for its success decided to take on the much easier task. From this case study we can conclude that when people begin to view their blunders in a different light, it encourages them to tackle on harder and more difficult challenges. Without the fear of making mistakes, we obtain an opportunity to make ourselves better.
People have made mistakes since the beginning of time and will always make mistakes. Although this is true, the way we view mistakes doesn’t have to stay constant as well. By seeing mistakes as a learning experience we can insure to extract the full benefits of any error that we make. We have seen that by shifting the blame of our actions to reduce our consequences can have a lot more harmful effects and will hurt us a lot more in the long run. On top of that making mistakes builds your perseverance and overall success. All in all, being a man and taking full responsibility for our actions is the best option to take to learn and fix our errors. And maybe there is a lesson to be learned behind every fortune cookie.
Punnoose 1