One of the traits I most admire in my now-husband is his willingness to admit when he screws something up.
I shared this image with him a few months back:
His response? “I must be brilliant then because I always look foolish.”
Which he doesn’t. But he also doesn’t try to hide it when he does.
And I’m learning from him.
Some screw-ups don’t bother me. If I make a mistake at the board while teaching, I reward the student who catches it with candy. When my typos are uncovered, I’m thankful for the free editing. I share some of my own failures at skiing and biking and running and math with my students to encourage them to be willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
But those mistakes don’t harm anyone. They don’t make anyone disappointed in me. (At least I hope you’re not too disappointed in me for my typos. If you are, I’m sorry! I’m trying to wear my contacts more when I write and to wait at least until the first cup of coffee hits.)
Those are the threatening screw-ups. The ones I have trouble facing.
Because the impact could be threatening and the fallout immense.
But the reality is that everyone screws up and that the way you handle your errors says more about your character than any mistake ever could. Part of my ex’s destruction came from hiding his mistakes rather than coming clean.
So I’m learning. When I screwed up the other night just as my husband was coming home from a weekend away, my excitement at seeing him turned to dread at his response to my carelessness.
And the best part about a guy that admits his own mistakes? He accepts them in others. He immediately dismissed my confession and apology, engulfed me in his arms and said, “It’s great to be home.”
We are not our screw-ups.
We are how we respond.
In order to become wise, one has to first be willing to look foolish.
Be willing to take responsibility for your mistake.
Be willing to risk anger or disappointment.
Be willing to separate your worth from your error.
Be willing to ask for help.
And then be willing to learn.