I hate making mistakes. Hate it. Hate. It. My cheeks flush. My stomach twists. And I suddenly feel the metaphorical equivalent of the butt ripping out of my pants during a board presentation.
And when some crystal-clutching, Tibetan-bowl-listening, enlightened-being friend of mine urges me to breathe, to lean into my humanity, to accept that we can only do the best we can do, to intone that to err is human and blah, blah, blah . . . I fantasize about pulling their pony tail (they don’t all have pony tails, but in my fantasies, they all do – don’t ask me why) really hard.
In sum: They suck (the mistakes, not the crystal-clutchers; them I like).
But there’s something that sucks more.
For me, not being effective sucks even more than ripping your metaphorical pants in front of a group of business people. I don’t want to look back at my life and see a vast landscape of precise columns, error-free rows, and an anthill-sized impact on the world around me. I want to spend my time on this little blue marble making things happen. I want to be someone who dreams beautiful things up, then goes about the messy – often embarrassing – process of bringing those dreams into reality.
And unfortunately, at least as far as I’ve been able to figure out, you can’t do the one without making the other. Sure, we can be perfect. We can be pristine and without flaw. But only if we resign ourselves to a slavish vigilance and a span of control about the size of a shoe box – a women’s size nine shoe box, but a shoe box all the same.
Perfection can only occur in suffocatingly-small spaces, and my world just won’t fit. So I make mistakes – a lot of them. I never give people enough lead-time on deliverables. I make typos on important communications and show up at networking events with a run in my tights. It happens. A lot, frankly, if I’m going to tell the truth. And it sucks.
But in general, people manage to get their work done despite my lack of consideration for their time. Although the typos may be distracting and put some off, more people seem to be interested in the content of my message than an oddly placed preposition or two. And even though some people may look askance at my wardrobe malfunction, a lot of them end up being engaged by my sincerity and kindness.
It may not be pretty sometimes but, generally, I do the thing, show up at the place, and meet the people who are integral to making the kinds of impact on the world I’d like to make.
And that, decidedly, does NOT suck.
Would you be willing to make more mistakes if it got you closer to your dreams?
Photo credit: Anne Karakash on Pixabay