I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend and coaching peer. She and I basically swapped stories of how we “screwed up” something. For her, it was a typo in a survey she sent out; for me, it was the wrong date of a new program I’m offering in June.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about this conversation was that we were both very light-hearted about it. “Oops!” and “oh well, stuff happens” was pretty much the attitude we collectively embraced.
Now that’s not to say that we weren’t taking responsibility for what we’d done (or hadn’t done). In fact for me, I knew it was pretty ironic that I messed up the date for a MINDFULNESS class! I’d quadruple checked things, as did she. But sometimes you can look at your own work for hours without seeing mistakes, and at some point, that work simply needs to be released into the world.
I used to live by the idea that if I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t a good person. A mistake like that would have had me beating myself up for hours–if not days–afterwards. It would have me wondering “how could that possibly happen?” It would have me worried about my “reputation”, such as it was.
How often do we judge ourselves for being human? For making mistakes that have to happen once in awhile, because you know, no one’s perfect?
I advise both myself and others this way:
If you make a mistake, you have the mistake to deal with.
Now if you add a layer of judgment on top of that (e.g. “I’m so stupid what’s wrong with me?”)
And then any / all the subsequent thoughts that grow from a negative thought like the previous one,
You’ve just piled yet more s**t on top of yourself that you’ll have to dig out of, eventually. Its like building a layer cake–but much less tasty. And the more you do it, the stronger the tendency becomes!
So don’t pile it on. Don’t do it. Just don’t!
Step carefully away from the judgment. Own the mistake, fix it if you can, recognize any contributing factors that might help with “next time”, and then move on.
Remember that you’re so much more than your little faux pas!