Uncle Lou, our March Madness Bracket Master and Chief Referee, sent an email to our group with “Mistakes Were Made” in his subject line.
What a great subject line, especially from our referee!
It let us all know right up front that things aren’t perfect, and it revealed the one thing many of us avoid admitting at all costs: mistakes.
Mistakes can be the first step toward that other really bad thing in life: FAILURE!
Mistakes and failures. Even more powerful in our lives is the fear of making mistakes, and experiencing failures.
Fear is a good thing. It keeps us alive. But, it can also stop us from taking action, changing course, making corrections, or dumping one idea in exchange for another (possibly better, but maybe worse) idea.
Imagine if you wrote an email every day, or maybe just once a week with the subject: Mistakes Were Made. In this magical email, you’d describe the areas where you made mistakes, describe the failures that had happened that day or that week, and spell out what you learned.
As challenging as writing this email might be, once it’s written, send it to your boss. And then send it to the people who report to you.
Does this little challenge strike fear in your heart? That’s natural. You should do it anyway. By admitting your mistakes, you’re letting your boss and those who report to you know that you are human. You are vulnerable. You don’t have all the answers.
None of us likes to admit to our mistakes or our failures. But, the act of admission frees us from the fear and other emotional baggage that we often carry when we make mistakes.
Acknowledging our mistakes and failures is the first step toward forgiving ourselves. Forgiveness lies on the opposite side of our fear. Its power against fear cannot be underestimated. A forgiving mindset, especially toward ourselves, opens us up to real learning and improvement.
I remember learning to water ski. After a while, my brother and I were pretty good skiers. We could go for miles and miles slaloming, jumping across the wake, and throwing up huge rooster tails without falling. That was nice, but our dad had a different view. He used to say that if we weren’t falling, at least occasionally, we weren’t trying to get better.
The trying was always as important (maybe more important) than the result. Dad wanted us to always be improving, so in his way, he was asking us to welcome the mistakes that led to better performance.
It’s clear that mistakes will happen. They come with the territory if we’re pushing our limits and getting better.
Embracing our mistakes is much better than fearing them.
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Nathan Shively