An image on social media recently caught my attention, stating that when a child learning to walk falls down again and again, they never come to the conclusion that “I guess walking isn’t for me.”
Very few of us excel at an activity the first time we attempt it. We learn by trial and error. We make an attempt, we learn what works and what doesn’t, and we try again until we succeed. When little leaguers step up to the plate for the first time, their coaches don’t expects a home run; they are happy if the child is able to touch the bat to the ball and run in the right direction.
Without knowing, this is how it was when we were children, but somewhere along the way we forgot this is true for adults.
For example: The first day on the job is usually one of the most challenging because everything is unfamiliar, and it takes time to gain a close understanding of both of the job and the organization. And yet many of us don’t want to ask questions, for fear of looking “weak.”
We try so hard to be perfect that we make more mistakes than if we’d asked for more information.
But look at it from another perspective: When a new team member asks you for help, do you automatically assume they are dumb? Of course not! In fact, most people prefer to assist and help the employee for two reasons: First, helping means that the team will be able to do their collective job more effectively and, also, because it’s what our teammates deserve. It’s what we would have wanted — it’s what we did want — when we were starting out.
When it comes down to it, though, we are ultimately responsible for our own education and part of that is being open to making — and owning — our mistakes. Most mistakes are opportunities for growth. No one sets out to fail; we set out wanting to knock it out of the park!
Mistakes, however, are the necessary steps we all take toward realizing a worthwhile goal. They might sting at first, but they are badges we earn on our way to wisdom, growth and improvement.
Instead of fearing mistakes, our effort is better used to avoid making the same mistake over and over. This is when, if we’re wise, we seek out a coach, a mentor or a co-mentor, to help examine our performance and guide us on how to better approach our next attempt. Seeking out those who can share their experiences and provide guidance in key areas of our lives is the cornerstone of living a Theory of 5 life.
This guidance is crucial if we want to improve and excel. It’s not enough to just practice, because if we practice doing the wrong thing time and again, we’re just reinforcing behavior we’ll have to unlearn later. Only perfect practice makes perfect, and this is where a coach and/or mentor is invaluable.
Making mistakes when we’re starting out is inevitable, but when we have experience and begin to believe there is nothing left to learn, we are in danger of pride preventing us from achieving our goals.
Unless we’re walking a high wire without a net, mistakes aren’t fatal. When our egos won’t allow us to take away the lessons we need to learn from those mistakes, however, growth and momentum stop, robbing us of the chance to reach our full potential!