Learning Curve

February 1, 2011

"A Beautiful Thing" print by lisabarbero on Etsy
Ok...so I know that today is supposed to be an Etsy post, and I have some really great stuff to share, but I really needed to interrupt our regular programming to share a revelation.

I had a really hard Monday.

I know, I know. Monday's are hard. That's why they call it a "Case of the Mondays". But believe me, today (Monday, the day I'm writing this) would have been disastrous for me had it not have been for some recent self-awareness knowledge I have gained.

I messed up today. Yes, I made a mistake. But not just one. Not just two. Three! All pretty big and all in one day! Believe me when I tell you...that never happens. I'm not perfect, but it's days like these that remind me that we are all human. Humans make mistakes and that's part of why we are so amazing.

So I fessed up to my boss and told him plainly that today wasn't one of my proudest performances. He only knew of one mistake at that point, so I explained the others...which I'm not going to go into here because it would be a lot to explain...and I made sure to take 100% of the responsibility. He didn't really mind any of the mistakes, but he appreciated that I acknowledged them. We laughed and moved on.  The truth was that I was being harder on myself than anyone else was. I had failed only my own expectations. Now, I'm not saying that it's okay to slack off on our own expectations, but we do have to cut ourselves some sometimes. (Some slack that is.) I definitely need to go gently with myself and understand that mistakes are inevitable. I have done very well escaping them so far, and THAT I can celebrate. (Though I'm still amazed that they all came in one day!)

The truth is that mistakes are necessary. We have to make them, or we are bound not to make much of anything in life. Mistakes are what make new possibilities. Mistakes are messy, but offer up a clean slate. Today, I screwed up, but I ended up in a better position than I was before. Why? Because I learned how not to be so hard on myself by watching the reactions of others. After I had realized my third mistake I felt defeated. I went into the hall and sat in a chair looking bummed out and texting a friend who I knew could offer a better outlook on the situation. It derailed me for a bit. But after watching it roll off of other's shoulders, I felt fine. I still wished I hadn't made the mistakes, but I didn't dwell on it any longer. I had landed safely on the other side of the perfectionist wall.

Here's where I might start making a little bit less sense. On the other side of that wall I found myself looking into a mirror. In that mirror I saw how hard I was on myself and how hard I am on others. I have expectations for myself that I impose on everyone else. I always knew this, but I never knew how in the world I would break it. Today, I found out.

Mess up.

Mess up bad.

At least to a survivable level. Something that only breaks your own expectations of yourself. Then, take a look at it and how unserious it really is. You. Are. Human. To recognize that we all make mistakes allows us to be more forgiving with others that may need a little more help sometimes. To be more understanding when we approach someone about a mistake and then offer guidance. I always wanted to make a change like this, but didn't know where to find the reset button. I felt that I would still get the same reaction from others whose defenses were up against my "miss perfectionist" exterior. Today's events gave me the chance to show that I am not perfect. I am not always at my own preferred level of excellence. Sometimes I make huge mistakes.

Today I made three and learned that sometimes making just one mistake can open the door for correcting more than one problem. It is here where we are at a point of vulnerability, where we are unsure of ourselves and what happened. It is here that you can find a place to start over, to adjust something that you have been meaning to tweak, but haven't yet known how to approach. A low point from which to build up.

So, go on...mess up if you want to...but bring grace, humility, and honesty to help you clean up. It's possible you will find clarity, empowerment, and growth waiting for you on the other side.