Why Refusing to Admit to a Mistake Can Be the Worst Mistake You Make
My proudest teacher moment this year came in the form of a Christmas note from a student –
“You taught us that it’s okay not to be ‘perfect’ and that is how we learn…from our mistakes.”
I used to have a really hard time admitting that I made a mistake. I would endure the repercussions instead of allowing that I made a poor choice and seeking an alternate. I would quietly jump through hoops to mitigate the consequences of my mistake instead of copping to it and asking for assistance.
I saw my mistakes as personal failings and their consequences as natural punishment. Instead of seeing opportunity in mistakes, I saw shame.
And in that environment, small mistakes can become large ones.
When my marriage imploded publicly and spectacularly, I was forced to come to terms with many mistakes of my own making – I chose to marry this man who obviously had some traits that were incompatible with marriage, I was ignorant of the deceptions and financial transactions that were occurring under my own roof and I further made the error of extending blind trust to another.
And for the first time in my life, rather than feeling shame and shutting down from those mistakes, I allowed myself to see opportunity and feel motivated by them.
And you know what? It was okay.
The world didn’t end because I had made a mistake. My loved ones didn’t turn away in abject horror. The lapses in judgement didn’t define me and the only thing they changed was my conviction to learn how to do better the next time.
And instead of fearing mistakes, I started to accept them. Sometimes even welcome them. (A tip of the hat here to my husband who does so well of admitting mistakes without excuse or defensiveness. I’m still learning from him!)
By admitting to a mistake, you take the first step towards fixing it.
By admitting to a mistake, you allow for other solutions and other perspectives.
By admitting to a mistake, you invite others into the search for resolution.
By admitting to a mistake, you set the stage for learning and create opportunity for growth.
By admitting to a mistake, you silence the shame and normalize the experience of not getting it right every time.
By admitting to a mistake, you give yourself the gift of empathy and understanding.
We ALL make mistakes. It’s what you do with them that matters.