Raise your hand if you’ve NEVER made a mistake…
Uh huh, that’s what I thought. (Not that I can see you but I predict no hands that were telling the truth went up).
I would ask, “How many of you are afraid of making a mistake?” but I’m afraid that question would be a mistake because according to the world of empirical guessing, 4 out of 5 people are afraid to admit they make mistakes because they think admitting to making a mistake is a mistake.
It’s odd that people are afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes comes with being human. No one has EVER, EVER, ever, EVER, gone through life without making a mistake. NOONE. It’s comes with being human … like sneezing. We don’t sneeze and exclaim to ourselves, “You NIN-CoM-PooP!” We sneeze and people say “God bless you.”
I am Mistake Prone
God bless me. I make mistakes daily if not hourly. They range from typing in the wrong password to moving in with the wrong guy. I drop, spill, and break things regularly. I take the wrong exit and leave my shopping bags at home. I leave cupboards open and lose tops to bottles.
The great Cosmic Joke
The great cosmic joke is I was born to two perfectionistic parents who expected mistake-prone me to be perfect. They rejected me when I didn’t meet their impossible expectations, which was painful. Really painful.
And then I became a perfectionist who rejected myself for not being perfect and I became sick doing that. Really sick. When you reject yourself, your body follows suit and begins to reject itself.
It’s not possible to be perfect. Trying to be perfect is glorified self-sabotage and a lot of time spent in being hard on yourself.
The inheritance I received from my parents didn’t begin to cover the cost of self-help books, seminars, retreats, detox, therapy, and dark chocolate it took to finally accept myself.
It was a mistake for my parents to expect me not to make mistakes. But the silver lining is: I became creative and invented a career that has made me happier than I ever imagined possible because of their mistake. I believe rough childhoods can result in coping skills that build humor, creativity, and enlightenment. I now liberate people from their own inner torment. The sand in the oyster’s shell of my childhood created a beautiful pearl.
Henry Link said: While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.
I was listening to a “superior” woman named Sarah being interviewed. She said her dad used to have a routine at the dinner table where she and her brother were asked to share their mistakes. When she shared something like, “I tried out for a team and did horribly,” her dad would give her a high five. He would actually be disappointed if she didn’t have something to share. Failure for her became not trying versus a failed outcome
She stated: Many people don’t take risks for fear of failure. They don’t start the business, they don’t create the art they want to create, they don’t go try out to be in the play, or whatever it is for fear of failure and once you redefine that failure as when you’re not trying then life opens in many ways
By the way Sarah is Sarah Blakely founder and CEO of Spanx, one of US’s most successful apparel industries. She uses her philosophy in the boardroom; she and her team share what she called Ooops and find the silver lining. It makes for an openly creative environment.
I do that too, but learned that there’s not always an obvious silver lining for a boardroom type situation. The nugget I have discovered is how acceptance frees me. I am human and humans make mistakes and to be hard on myself is a waste of energy. Accepting my mistakes is one of the most freeing things I’ve discovered about life.
Where to be Perfect
I think there are places we don’t want to make mistakes. Brain surgery, flying airplanes, and making promotional materials to name a few.
I have been sending out a newsletter for the last 15 years. I’m up to about 5000 subscribers. I don’t know how many people actually read it because only 3 or 4 people email me back -- Kathy in Florida, Laurel in California, Linda lee in La Jolla and sometimes my friend, Meredith in Georgia. I do know enough people read because my retreats and trainings fill. About 5 to 10 people unsubscribe monthly mostly giving the reason of reducing emails, about that many subscribe. I know I have to be particularly vigilant about typos because some people actually will write me off as unprofessional and disregard my services if I have a typo.
As some of you know, two weeks ago I sent out a newsletter to the 5000. It was supposed to be titled Passion Makes Discipline easy. When I went to check my email I saw a newsletter from me titled, “Passin Makes Discipline Easy,” I shrieked a four-letter word I’m sure my neighbors did not appreciate. Not only did this typo go out to 5000, it also automatically posts to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter… another 4000. Nincompoop!
No wait, get up off the floor, muster up your beloved creative resourcefulness and send out another email – that’s what my resilience (and my Muse, Spills, told me to do). I put “Mistake Intervention” in the subject line. Here it is:
I consoled myself that if anyone unsubscribed, they probably weren’t someone I wanted as my reader anyway.
It was the first time in 15 years I had just one unsubscribe. I received 40 MORE emails than usual, if you were one of them, thank you. Here are some of the things people wrote:
Linda: I loved the typo!XXOO
Ellie: I was excited to find out who Passin was.
Dale: Mistake Intervention?
Sounds like a won-n-n-derrful program! Sign. Me. Up.
How much does it cost? I don’t even care about the free one month trial while operators are standing by.
Jennifer: No worries, I’m just passin’ by
Kit: I love the typ. It made me curious about the article. Who is the French guy? Or is he Russian And how can he help. –
Lynda: I thought passin was a new herb.
Cyncie: Loving you lots!
Eileen: This is adorable! I love your style!!!
Actually, passin' makes discipline effortless too. Quite possibly downright unnecessary!
JoannE: Thanks...your correction made me laugh.
Sue Ann: I am so glad I am not the only one…..I love this email Jill!
My favorite movie-star client: Jill you are a Doll…I so laughed at your adorable ‘extra email’ What a great idea for all of our faux pas…in the end they are cute (when time passes!)
Rebecca: What a great email!!. More facilitators and teachers should learn the act of humility and humor. It brings a smile to the receiver and reminds us to do as you did beautifully when we make a mistake. Thank you!!
I think they were saying, “God bless you.”
The silver lining seems to be that people like us even better when we are willing to admit our mistakes. Freedom comes in acceptance of all our beautiful human tendencies.
I hope this post will help you find that freedom too.