The Art of Making Mistakes

 
Self compassion promotes creativity. Learn to forgive yourself of mistakes and failure and you will allow yourself to create and innovate
— Amanda Lang, The Power of Why
 
 

When was the last time you celebrated your failures and mistakes?  I mean like really sat down, thought about it and recognized the role mistakes and failures have played in your life? As adults we often assume a role in which we feel must express our mastery, knowledge and skills. We (or even more specifically, I,  as a self diagnosed perfectionist) often uphold incredibly high expectations of ourselves in terms of performance at work and in our daily lives.  No longer is it good enough to just do the bare minimum, coast through life and just get by, we must excel at everything we do from the food we cook, to the way we exercise, to the tasks we perform at work, the things we create and the relationships we build with our friends and family.

 So often we apply incredibly rigid ideas of success to ourselves and measure this "success" to a standard that we would never apply to anyone else.  When we find ourselves talking to children or anyone learning a new skill, or even just the people we interact with in our daily lives, we never apply the same level of criticism that we constantly subject ourselves to. So why is it that we encourage failures and risk taking in the name of learning with the people around us but are not always able to apply it to ourselves? 

Because it sucks.

It sucks to admit that you were wrong, that you messed up but you learned, and you did something differently and that you tried a new way. And it is hard. Like really, really damn hard. And frankly, with every passing year it gets harder. When we are kids we fall down, we rip our jeans,  we mess up our clothes and we maybe even knock out a tooth or two process. But what do we do? We get up and we get going and we keep going and we don't ever stop (well maybe until we come home to our parents in our disheveled state and are met with gasps, shock and horror. "What have you done?!") 

So, in the spirit of honouring and celebrating failures I give you my most recent top 5 mistakes of the last 6 months: 

  • Undertaking, ruining and totally abandoning a creative project: #the100dayproject  (This one so special it will get it's own separate blog post)
  • Not checking an address of a school I was visiting and allowing Google maps to lead to a completely incorrect location (that was interesting!) 
  • Completely blanking on a friend's birthday and forgetting to contact her and feeling totally terrible about it until I saw her in person that day. (Thankfully I saw her in person that day and it triggered the memory that it was in fact, for her birthday)
  • Emailing a colleague and assuming that he worked at a specific location because his last name was a few letters off from the spelling of said  place and clearly if your last name looks like the name of a place you must work there (funny how the brain makes random associations like that and it's hard to unlearn it) 
  • Attempting to cook 20+ L of soup in a giant pot while multitasking (which resulted in not the intended outcome, but free soup for those interested!) 

What have these failures taught me?  

  • I need to make a concerted effort to schedule in time for myself time to process information and plan things out in advance. I have strong introvert tendencies in the way I process information and I am beginning to learn about how this affects they way I work, fail and get stressed out.  
  • That over planning something completely squashes any sense of creative drive that I have (see upcoming blog post: "10 ways to kill a creative project")
  • That I need to SLOW down and stop rushing against self imposed timelines for my life
  • That no matter how messed up it is, and how completely far off from the intended outcome, everyone likes free food.  

And so what's the purpose of all this you ask? Well, I challenge you to share your failures! Instead of stuffing them far back to create a home with the skeletons that reside in our closet, let's bring them out into the open, give them the air to breathe that they so need in order to grow into something else, something better, something that creates CHANGE. There really is liberation in honouring and naming your failures. For every #failedit eventually leads to a #nailedit

So, what mistakes have you made recently?