dave-mittlemanMost of us walk around avoiding those “worst moments” that can occur in life–embarrassing ourselves, ruffling bosses’ feathers, or putting ourselves in situations where we might fail. However, according to some of the most successful people, there are five mistakes that everyone should make in their lifetime…since they can be the most revealing and sometimes the most rewarding.

  1. Totally embarrass yourself. Mary Phiper, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of several popular books, went to her prestigious party with a pair of clean underwear affixed to her skirt. She was so elated to be making connections with new, famous people that she didn’t realize until after she left the party later that night. However, it taught her that we’re all one static-cling away from a giant embarrassment…plus she has a great funny story to tell to her friends for years to come.
  2. Ruffle people’s feathers. Mary C. Gentile, PhD, is a senior research scholar in Business Management at Babson College. When she first started working at a business school, years ago, she was afraid to ever open her mouth at meetings for fear that people wouldn’t like her or get angry with her. However, she soon realized that people simply assumed that she agreed with whatever was being said at the meetings since she never spoke. After coming to this realization, she began to speak up more, and although her colleagues would sometimes role their eyes at her, they respected her more for sharing her opinions.
  3. Don’t follow trends blindly. Simon Doonan has been the creative director for Barney’s New York for since 1986. After spending years following every new trend, he finally decided in his 50s that he would discover his own style–one that seemingly helped him land his top-notch job.
  4. Be willing to fail–doing something you love. Bill Murphy Jr. is an attorney and author of the book The Intelligent Entrepreneur. After graduating law school in 1997, he began interviewing for high-paying position at major law firms, but his heart just wasn’t into it. So he decided to start up an Internet business with his friend. Unfortunately, that venture went south after just a year. Bill was left with a pile of debt and no job. But instead of letting it get him down, he interviewed for other positions. In fact, he worked for any position that peaked his interest, including working for the U.S. Department of Justice, reporting to The Washington Post from Iraq, and serving in the military. Overall, he learned that he always had to ask himself two questions to find the key to professional happiness: are you passionate about what you do? And if not, what are you going to do instead?
  5. Carelessly put yourself at risk. Amy Ozols is a cultural commentator and writer for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. She once found herself alone on a black-diamond ski trail in the middle of a blizzard. Instead of panicking, and with no other options, she decided to go down the mountain–granted, she did it with lots of prayers and pleas for survival, but she did it. She learned from that experience that sometimes you have to get in over your head to realize that you’re not really in over your head at all. Most of the time, a high-risk situation won’t kill you, because you are stronger than you think, just like Amy found out when she skiied down the slope.