Are you afraid to make mistakes? Are you afraid to look stupid? Are you unable to make decisions quickly? Are you unwilling to lead? Do you look to others for the “right” way to accomplish tasks? If so, then you are just like the way I used to be. I was raised and educated to always have the “right” answer. In school and at home I watched and learned that mistakes were “bad” and you didn’t want to make them. The consequences were looking ignorant, shame, and fear. I learned to sit back and watch instead of taking the lead in anything. My self esteem was also wrapped up in my actions. If I made a mistake it meant I was inferior instead of just someone who was learning a new skill. This was not true of course. It was just a story I made up about what mistakes meant.
What I have realized is that mistakes are just how we learn. They are neither good nor bad and they don’t say anything about who I am. When I was a little boy I made lots of mistakes. I fell down often and I learned to walk and ride a bike. I said words incorrectly when I learned to talk. I smashed 2 words together and made new ones. My parents just laughed and enjoyed the process of watching me grow. Through these mistakes I received the information I needed to master skills. The feedback was really valuable and I could not have learned any other way. So why is it that some of us decide that making mistakes is bad and we become uncomfortable with making any? Doesn’t this just mean that we have stopped learning too?
I have come to understand that there really is no right or wrong way to do anything. There are just a variety of methods to accomplish tasks. Some of them may be more efficient but that doesn’t make the others wrong. The right and wrong is just a judgment we put on things. This is unnecessary and just keeps us from moving forward. How many times have we failed to take action on our goals because we didn’t want to do it wrong? However, how are we supposed to know how to do it if we can’t make any mistakes along the way? That’s the way we learn isn’t it? If we get stuick on doing it “right” then we will never take any action. Our fears will creep up and take away our dreams long before we move forward with them. Mistakes are really neutral. They are just information. We must be willing to be really bad at something at first to become good at it later. One of my favorite quotes is “Dare to suck!” Dare is be crappy at this new thing you want to do. Then, take the feeback and become better.
Release your judgment of yourself and others. Judgment of others is the same as judging ourselves. When we judge others we put those same limitations on ourselves. What do we really want? A life of freedom of expression or a life of limitations? Stop being a judge and you open yourself to be free.
Some great advice I got at a seminar was to make as many mistakes as you can as fast as you can. That’s the best way to learn. I’m either on the winning team or the learning team. Either way, I am a worthy person living a life of discovery and growing everyday. That’s the way I choose to live and I suggest you do too.
By Joe Parker