Mistakes are the portals of discovery.
Have you ever held back from doing or saying something because you were afraid you were going to make a mistake?
Lots of thoughts come to heart and mind when I think of the word “mistake”: regret, embarassment, fault, missed opportunity, failure.
And when the Random House Dictionary defines a mistake as: an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc… well, I feel like my fear of making miskates is justified!
Twice last week I was confronted with the idea that making mistakes is not only OK, it’s essential.I’ve known this intellectually, yet trusting enough in my heart to let mistakes happen… that trust is just starting to happen.
The first challenge came from Leif Hansenduring a consultation about increasing play and engagement in my workshops. Our conversation was focused on my Living Your Vision® offering; however, we couldn’t talk about play without talking about my fear of it. My fear of being publicly vulnerable, looking ridiculous, freezing up and sinking into a hole in the earth when I goofed. His advice on this fear was simple: MAKE MORE MISTAKES.Take more risks. Trust others to accept and have compassion for my mistakes, as I do for theirs.
If I didn’t get it the first time, the same message popped up a few days later when I attended an event featuring Eric Liu, author of Imagination First. Hearing him speak was like déjà vu all over again. He offered that vulnerability is essential to imagination and creativity. By being open to mistakes, we “create permission for possibility.”
Someone in the audience asked Liu, “What do you do when you’re being stretched beyond what feels comfortable?” His advice: Decide to embrace the discomfort and double-down into it – throw yourself into the exercise and be willing to fail spectacularly. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?!?
Leif has taught me and others that when we mess up, to extend our arms, take a big bow, and exclaim, “Thank you very much!” Claim it, don’t shame it! Don’t shrink back or fall into a self-created shame-shaped hole. Don’t let others define what’s possible for you.Acknowledge the fear, decide to move through it, release the desire for perfection and certainity, and allow the experience to give you new information.
Never say, “oops.” Always say, “Ah, interesting.” ~Author Unknown
PS – Can you find the mistakes in the above message? There are at least three… and the world is still spinning… 🙂
This Week’s Intention & Quote
I experience unconditional compassion for myself as I STRETCH into creating a new story about what it means to make mistakes and be vulnerable. My story includes space and grace for spectacular failures that lead to spectacular triumphs.
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.“
~ Napoleon Hill
Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades says
Beth, a glorious article and just what I needed to read. I’m printing it so I can refer back to it often. Thank you!
LOVE the E. Hubbard quote – oh brother – can I ever relate!! ? P.S. No offense, but I’m not going overlook your important message to find “errors”. That’s like gazing at a beautiful forest and looking for leaves out of place… Enjoy the gorgeous sun!
Beth Buelow says
Lynn, so glad this message came along at the right time! Funny how that happens… 🙂
Wendy, I agree, the Hubbard quote is a keeper – I’m actually going to post it somewhere in a prominent place as a gentle reminder to let go… instead of worrying about a mistake, I’ll choose to be curious: “wonder what mistake I’m going to make today!?”