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Forgive Your Mistakes & Learn - Barack Obama’s Rebellious Youth

By Kris Deichler, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

“They never gave up on me and so I didn’t give up on myself”

- Barack Obama

How do you feel about making mistakes?

Do you embrace and appreciate them, or feel embarrassed and wish them away? The truth is that they’re very important for our growth... if we use them well!

A Rebellious Youth

You might not think it, but President Barack Obama had quite a rebellious youth and has even admitted to smoking drugs. But, you don’t get to become the most powerful person on the planet if you haven’t got things wrong and learned differently, which is the message he delivered to some young underprivileged men in 2014.

In a speech about helping men like this get the support they need, he quite humbly admits his own mistakes and the many times he wandered off the right path as a young man. However, he had the consistent help, empathy and guidance of his mother and mentors around him and used those mistakes to his advantage; to learn, grow and mature into a leader. As he says, it was because of them and their ability to forgive him again and again, giving him a new chance every time, that he was able to course correct and become who he is today.

Forgiving Our Mistakes

How many of us can say we treat ourselves and our mistakes, let alone those of others this way? The fact is we are all human and it’s our mistakes and the struggles we go through that help us learn and empathise with others. When we can understand why we are getting things wrong, we can see in others their potential and who they could become, given the right guidance. The principles are that the more we forgive ourselves and appreciate our mistakes, the easier it is to forgive, appreciate and lead those around us too.

Here’s the video of his speech. Just watch the young boy in the background and how touched you can see he is at the fact he feels understood (empathy) and is being given a chance to learn and redeem himself that he might not have had if Obama hadn’t been given the same…

What have you learned from your mistakes that you could share to help others in the comments below?

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