“What if I get it wrong?” my client said to me. She wasn’t the first one to say this in a coaching session, I doubt she will be the last. It is a common fear that we all face from time to time.
My normal counter to this is “so what if you get it wrong?” – this isn’t me being facetious, it’s a genuine question. We so often focus on what could go wrong and forget the benefits of making a mistake. We forget when we have done things that have worked out.
Progress isn’t linear
I totally get it. One of my biggest frustrations in life is the feeling I get when I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know about you but this is my trigger for worrying about getting it wrong. It makes me feel out of control.
What I have learned in my life is that you need to keep experimenting. Every time we learn something new, whether positive information or negative, we expand our comfort zone but the problem is that progress isn’t linear. We go through a roller-coaster of emotions ranging from elation to worrying that you can’t do it.
When I watch my kids learning I see them make mistakes and get frustrated. I have learnt not to step in and do it for them because they don’t learn the process that works for them. (Slight caveat, I will step in if they are going to absolutely hurt themselves or someone else or if it’s downright dangerous!) They often do things differently to how I would do something but that’s the thing. When kids don’t ‘know’ the process they get curious and they don’t worry about getting it wrong (until we instil that in them) and they try things until it works they way they want it to.
What if you knew you couldn’t make a mistake?
So what if we were more like a toddler, what if we didn’t worry about getting it wrong but got curious and keep trying until they get it right. Learning along the way by getting it wrong.
As I was writing this blog I woke up in the night and thought to myself, what if we didn’t see it as getting it wrong? What if we knew we couldn’t make a mistake? What if we trusted our intuition? How would that change things?
This almost certainly came from the fact I have been listening to Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. In it he takes a potion called ‘Felix Felicis’ which means he’s lucky in all that he does, he cannot make a mistake. It seems like he’s making some odd decisions to his friends but he trusts ‘Felix’. It is described as him following a path which is illuminated only a few steps at a time, each time, he knows what to do next each time.
What have you learnt from your mistakes?
We have all learnt from it all ‘going wrong’, from creating a new recipe to finding a new career it is possible to look back and see the event we’d define as a catalyst for change. I encourage you to think of something you have experienced and called a ‘failure’ and consider the things you have learnt. If you want to share then feel free to comment below; I would love to read your reflections.
Finally, what if you knew you couldn’t make a mistake? How would that change your actions? Changing our mindset can be really powerful and when I was talking about this blog post in the LinkedIn group, one of the members mentioned this TED Talk by Tim Ferriss called ‘why you should define your fears‘ which is definitely worth a watch.