If we see the word UP as an acronym for “Unlimited Potential” or “Untapped Potential” it gives even more meaning to the phrase, “UP Only!”. Each week I explore motivating ways to consider the word UP to increase our own “UP Potential”.
Mistakes, You Can’t Grow Without Them
I once flew on a trapeze with a traveling circus in South America. I climbed the long wobbly ladder to the top of the circus tent and though I had never done it before, I grabbed the trapeze bar and jumped off the small perch like a pro.
I was probably not as graceful and fluid as I thought, but it did feel as though I was flying through the air with the “greatest of ease”.
When it was time to let go, the Columbian trapeze coach yelled up to me: “¡Suéltalo!”. Obediently, I let go, laid myself out horizontally, and did a free fall into the net 45 feet below.
Landing was easy, but crossing the big net to get down proved difficult. As I awkwardly crawled to the side, my leg fell through and I struggled to release myself from the net’s grip. I no longer felt graceful. Yet despite my clumsy dismount, I raised my arms up high, lifted my chin and said, “ta-dah!”
Recently this simple “ta-dah!” gesture has taken on more meaning to me. Consider how performers, acrobats, and gymnasts end their flawless performances with the expected “ta-dah!” as if it was the exclamation point on their routine. The result is always applause and approval from the crowd.
In the same manner, isn’t it true that performers that make mistakes or fail to complete their trick also finish with the same “ta-dah!”? And aren’t these performances met with equal applause and perhaps more admiration?
It is easy to picture young gymnasts or small children with beaming smiles and their arms spread wide in perfect “ta-dah” form after an unbalanced somersault or a crooked cartwheel. Without a doubt their imperfect action is always met with enthusiastic support and encouragement.
What a great outlook. The truth is, if we want to grow, we are going to make mistakes along the way. Why not embrace them immediately with a “ta-dah!”
Will you make mistakes in your life? In your business? In your relationships? Yes — guaranteed!
Next time you do, try smiling and saying “ta-dah!”
Mistakes are part of the process, you can’t grow without them.
In the process of becoming a toddler, did you fall down a lot learning to walk? Of course! Did your parents or others reject you as incompetent when your first attempts to walk were clumsy and unsuccessful? No! They may have giggled a bit, but I bet they always helped you up and encouraged you to try again.
As a child you were curious about what you could do. You didn’t question whether or not you should try to walk, you didn’t judge whether or not you would be any good, and you certainly didn’t put off trying until you read every book on it first; you just went out and tried and tried and tried again.
By the way… you looked awkward, you looked clumsy, you teetered and fell on almost every attempt. Then one day you got up and crossed the room.
The sooner we can get it out of our head that mistakes are something to be avoided or that anything other than immediate success is embarrassing, the sooner we can make real growth and positive change in our lives.
I was talking to a client the other day who is a promising songwriter. She felt stuck for some time and desperately wanted to have the success she deserves. Finally she blurted out, “I guess I just need to be okay with writing bad songs too!” Wow! I thought, that’s brilliant!
Whether you are a struggling songwriter, want to write your first book, start a new business, or develop a buried talent, be willing to allow your first efforts to be less than perfect.
Waiting for perfection keeps your dreams and goals elusive and perpetually in the future. The only way to the next level is to be willing to make mistakes today and to be prepared to be less than perfect so that your next effort is better by experience. Momentum begins when you start, but can never begin if you don’t.
On a blue post-it note above my desk I have this quote by Harry S. Truman:
“Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.”
Don’t be afraid to Mess UP. Don’t be embarrassed when your efforts are less than perfect. Be proud that you took action. Say “ta-dah”, learn, laugh and get up again. Each time you do you will be one step closer to your masterpiece.