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How to Be Okay With Making Mistakes and Why They’re So Important

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I ran my first workshop to two friends in their living room. It was pretty bad. I apologized throughout: “I’m sorry this is so bad!” My hands shook, and I fumbled my words. But a year later, when I’d run a series of successful workshops, I was glad I decided to do that first workshop from my friend’s couch. I was grateful I’d taken the risk, and given it a go because I pushed through the awkward stage in order to get to the good part.

I had similar learning experience while testing my accountability program. I didn’t get a response from one of my testers, so I assumed she had left the program. I thought nothing of it, but then received a message from her: “I thought the program was good. But when I didn’t send in my weekly report and you didn’t check in with me or follow up… I gave up.”

I was mortified. My accountability program was designed to support people each week and I had neglected to do the one thing I promised to do! But here’s what I learned: mistakes are part of it. Mistakes are a rite of passage for anything worthwhile. We have to learn for ourselves what works as it’s an important part of the journey.

Know that you will trip up and make mistakes but it is up to you if you get back up again. There is no “mistake-free” route. Life is about taking action, learning, and re-plotting.

So for anyone starting a new business or something similar, here are four things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t be afraid to let mistakes happen

Let them happen, they will crop up. There is no perfect route! We can’t learn without stumbling (a little). I see the following taglines in many business start-up webinars: “Let me share my mistakes, so you don’t make any!” It’s great to learn from people who are further ahead, but we need to make mistakes.

We have to go through our own learning, to discover what works for us. So learn from the experts or the people who are further ahead but don’t mistake this for “never doing anything wrong”.

If you’re starting something exciting, and hoping to never make a mistake, you’ll have a shock when the inevitable occurs. Instead, be open to it. What mistakes will I make? What will I learn from them? How can I grow from them?

2. Appreciate the risk you’re taking

Not everyone pursues their goal or dream. Not everyone risks new experiences. Whether it’s a new hobby or attending an event on your own, know that there are people who won’t put themselves through it. They’re too scared, and they will make excuses.

My point is to acknowledge the risk you’re taking with your new venture. The courage and strength it takes to push yourself, and keep going is tough so give yourself credit. Know that for every mistake you make, there are ten people out there who don’t have the guts to do what you’re doing. Give yourself a pat on the back. Forget about “winning” and focus on doing.

Don’t think, just do.” – Horace

3. Know that everyone goes through making mistakes

Every single person who created something amazing (a wonderful relationship; a close and loving family; a thriving business) made mistakes along the way. They messed up, they did things wrong and they allowed themselves to learn in order to come out stronger.

Think about anyone you admire: Beyonce; a New York symphony orchestra player; an Olympic snowboarder… do you think they made mistakes along the way? Did they fall down, and get back up again? Of course they did.

Because everything worthwhile involves risk. The people you see at the top of their game have all made mistakes. So take a page from their book and make mistakes now. Make them quickly, improve, and move on. You’ll soon be someone other people are asking how you got to be where you are now.

4. Ignore the judgers

There will always be people who look at what you do, without knowing much (if anything) about your situation, and comment or pass judgment. The funny thing is that most of them do it from the sidelines; they don’t get involved in the game themselves.

In my twenties, I changed jobs a lot. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I tested different careers. This experience was vital to learn what worked for me. I grew from it, and it set me on the path I’m on today.

During this time, my great-aunt commented on my job-hopping. She was concerned about it, and shared that with me many times. And yet, she hadn’t worked outside of the home for 40 years.

“My mom always said that there would be haters. Not everyone can love ya.” – Joel Madden

You might wonder how someone can make groundless comments like that but people do. Childless friends who comment on your parenting style. Family members who question your decision to travel the world, when they don’t own a passport. Colleagues who tell you your business venture won’t work, when they don’t have the courage to leave the company they work for.

So what should we do? Ignore them. Let them do their thing, and you do yours, because anyone can criticize. It’s infinitely more difficult to build and accomplish. The question is: what do you want to accomplish and are you willing to risk making mistakes to get there?

What type of business do you want to build? Let us know below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Claire O'Connor is an accountability coach and writer. She works with people who need motivation and structure or who feel lost and stuck. Through her accountability program, she helps people prioritize their tasks and make progress. She is a lifelong learner/mistake-maker. She can be found at www.thefivepercent.net or at https://www.facebook.com/thefivepercent.net/.

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