“Make loud, confident mistakes!” our choir teacher shouted. We had been rehearsing a particularly difficult piece of music and we just weren’t getting it.
Dr. D., as we called him, could sense our frustration and was trying to coax us to keep singing. So as we began again for what felt like the umpteenth time, he suddenly blurted out, “Make loud, confident mistakes!” We looked at each other like he had just lost his mind, but then he said, “I can’t help you if I don’t know where you’re having trouble.”
So we did. We made our mistakes – loud and confident, and he helped us through the trouble spots. And the outcome? We totally rocked that song like we were Guns N Roses, all because he gave us permission to make loud, confident mistakes. I know what you’re probably thinking. How nice to have such a kind, caring teacher who encouraged failure from his students and still passed them. (Eye roll). Yeah, I get it but that experience, that permission to fail really made a huge difference. Without it, we would have never achieved success.
Alright, so what the heck are loud, confident mistakes and why would anyone want to make them? I’m glad you asked. Loud, confident mistakes are game changers, the voodoo in your hoodoo, the secret ingredient in your secret ingredient sauce, they’re where the-rubber-meets-the-road that makes success possible.
Again, I know what you’re probably thinking. That’s all nice and dandy but life these days is just not that accommodating. Society doesn’t go for mistake-making. For out loud crying, we’re taught from an early age that mistakes are bad. Just think back to all the do’s and don’ts that were drilled into us like a woodpecker on a tree. It’s no wonder we’re paranoid of making mistakes.
Not only that but mistakes can be costly, not just in the business sense but on a personal level too. If our mistakes get out there in front of God and everyone, then surely humiliation and embarrassment will ensue. We risk ridicule, criticism and shame. Who needs all that noise?
Nope, most of us work very hard at hiding our mistakes from the rest of the world because like I said, we’ve been conditioned to view them as bad. And if we go around openly displaying our mistake-making skills, then surely everyone will look at us like we’ve sprouted three heads and run the other way.
Unfortunately, we have adopted a societal thinking that successful people do not fail – ever. They have a lot of chutzpah, charisma; they’re cool and collected, shrewd even, but they don’t fail. Everybody wants to be them. We place a tremendous amount of worth on those kinds of people. Yet we grudgingly accept society’s criteria, and because failures are so inevitable we think we will never measure up. Consequently many of us live with our noses pressed against the window looking in on what we think we’ll never attain.
What a bunch of hooey! We’ve become paralyzed by the illusion that “perfect people” exist and we’ll never be one of them. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but just like unicorns that eat rainbows and poop butterflies, perfect people don’t exist. Thank God!
No one is omniscient nor does anyone possess God-like power to speak Creation into existence. Whatever matters to us, we have to work at and work hard to achieve. We have to make mistakes in order to gain experience; to accomplish one step forward for every three steps back; to get up every time we get knocked down. We must be willing to risk everything if we want to be truly something. Otherwise, we just stand on the edge of the precipice looking over the side rather than jumping off the proverbial cliff and spreading our wings.
Confucius once said, “Experience is the worst teacher. It gives you the test before it gives you the lesson.” True that. To understand what molds us, shapes us, determines our path, what reveals our mettle, we have to embrace failure.
It’s why doctors ‘practice’ medicine; why scientists have theories rather than forgone conclusions; why athletes eat, sleep and breathe their sport to be become professional; why any accomplished person in the history of the world has failed repeatedly and mightily before ever achieving their goal. They’ve thrown caution to the wind while the rest of us simply stand on the sidelines marveling at their tenacity, dedication, and willingness to put themselves out there – mistakes and all – envying their successes.
Yet we possess the exact same volition as every one of those successes but we allow one huge obstacle to stand in our way….fear.
We have this belief, this unfounded fear that failure is fatal. That somehow life as we know it will cease to exit; that the world will stop spinning, and stars will fall from the heavens if we fail. We defeat ourselves before we ever begin. We get in our own way. We don’t give ourselves permission to make mistakes – loud, confident ones – and dare to become infinitely more.
So what’s a body to do? Well first, you must have a can do spirit rather than a can’t do. Remember, positivity begets positivity. Use only positive self talk. And when you screw up because you will, be kind to yourself. Pick yourself up, dust off and start again.
Be teachable; learn from others. This is sooo important. You cannot possibly gain any ground unless you are humble enough to be teachable. This is where growth happens. I know someone who said once, “You’re asking me to be something I’m not.” YES! Exactly because where you are currently isn’t working. You have to be willing to stretch and grow. It may be painful; growth usually is, but it is very rewarding to see how far you’ve come.
Remember it’s about progress, not perfection. Progress, even the smallest amount will make all the difference. You know the saying, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Progress, progress, progress.
Celebrate your achievements, celebrate you! Because every ounce of progress is worth a pound of success. And be sure to surround yourself with people who are your cheerleaders, who will celebrate your successes along with you. They will be your best encouragers, too.
Stop living in fear, have courage. Courage is strength. It’s the one thing that, in the face of great odds, will carry you through to the other side. It shows you are a force to be reckoned with. Never let fear win. Be one of those risk takers, a caution-to-the-wind thrower, a proverbial cliff jumper. Dare to be the person you want rather than what society (fear) dictates.
And lastly know this, success is never final. Once you’ve gained it, you have to keep on keeping on. But you know the rewards and how to get them. Life is about the ebbs and flows. It’s not a spectator sport. It requires, demands our active participation. Because if we do nothing but continue to stand idly by and watch, we truly do fail.
Make loud, confident mistakes!
And finally remember this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6