There are two ways you can manage a mistake – the painful approach and the empowering approach. The painful approach reduces creativity, growth and lowers self esteem. The empowering approach, while it may require practice, makes you an awesome role model and makes you feel better about yourself. What more could you want?
You may be familiar with the Painful Approach:
- Notice your mis-take
- Severely criticize yourself
- Hide the mistake and don’t tell anyone that you even tried
- Feel guilt and shame and remember it for the rest of your life
- Remain stuck in life due to being fearful of making other mistakes
- Continue trying to be perfect as if it was a realistic achievable standard
Staying stuck in your comfort zone to avoid making a mistake could be holding you back from some great experiences and valuable learning. Look back into your past. Was it your biggest slip-up that gave you some of your greatest wisdom? Were some of your blunders in life the funniest moments?
Criticism is not a reason to avoid mistakes. Thomas Edison made thousands of mistakes before producing a light bulb. If he had discontinued because of his own or others criticism you may still be using candles today.
Mis-takes are to be expected if you are growing, learning and moving forward. Babies don’t try to walk, repeatedly fall down and then give up. When people learn to drive and make that horrible gear crunching sound, they don’t stop and say “I am going to catch a bus for the rest of my life.” Persevering through mistakes builds confidence.
The Empowering Approach:
- Notice your magnificent mistake
- Acknowledge yourself for giving it a go
- Smile and say “What a magnificent mistake”
- Accept your error as proof you’re part of the human race
- Be opportunistic about the possible benefits of this marvelous mistake
- Be Curious about how it happened and what you could learn
- Devise a creative solution that will blow your mind about how clever you are.
Oh no! Maybe you’ve been making a mistake about your approach to mistakes! That’s really going to taunt your perfectionism isn’t it. Maybe it’s time to embrace your humanity and enthusiastically experiment with life. Make a mess, try something new and embrace your blunders. Some one once said “The worst mistake anyone can make is to be too afraid to make one.”