Admitting our mistakes gives us a chance to be vulnerable.
A professor that I know, who is a perfectionist, recently was sharing with me that the other day during a lecture a student asked her a question and she didn’t know the answer. She thought to herself, “I should know the answer, since I am teaching the class.” She realized in the moment that she did not fully prepare for the lecture. Typically, she would never admit to her class if she didn’t know something. However, on this day, she decided to admit to the class of a hundred students that she wasn’t prepared and didn’t have all the materials ready. The most wonderful thing happened when she admitted her mistake. By her being vulnerable and showing her student she had flaws, it gave her students permission to make mistakes. It’s interesting that we tend to pretend that we are perfect and hide our short-comings and weaknesses from the world rather than embracing our ‘human-ness.’
By making it acceptable for her, as a professor, to make mistakes it made it acceptable for her students to do so too. Mistakes are one of the best ways to learn; they are a normal and acceptable – but more importantly a necessary part of life.
Today in my yoga class I was trying to master the art of a hand stand. Needless to say, many of us were falling over. The instructor said, “Falling is a sign of courage.” This was inspirational to me and stuck with me. Those who tried to do a hand stand at least had the courage to try rather than those who refused to do it for fear of failing or looking bad. The latter group never pushed themselves passed their comfort level which, and so never allowed themselves to grow.
Our mistakes shape us; admit them and grow with them.