I’ve attended meetings where I’ve embarrassed myself. There was one meeting in particular that sticks with me to this day. I was fresh out of college and working at my first full-time job. My attention wasn’t on topic when we were talking about marketing a new valve. I tried to insert an idea into the conversation and suggested we advertise on a certain site. Everyone glared at me as if I had just grown a second nose. My boss told me that I had better pay attention because that was just mentioned. I looked down at my notes and internally yelled at myself for being stupid.
My theory at the time was - the angrier I was at myself the less likely it was that I would make that same mistake. This technique wrecked my confidence. It took me over a month to recover from that incident. I couldn’t shake off the dread of opening my mouth in a meeting. I was terrified to make another mistake.
Kindness - The Greatest Tool for Mistakes
Since that first job I’ve learned to value being kind to myself when I make a mistake and have a lapse in judgment. I am now able to forgive my mistakes, which allows me to deal with the present. It's a simple tool to add to your life, but one of the most difficult to implement. The best way to encourage kindness is to use your mistakes as an opportunity to improve. When you have enough awareness to acknowledge your mistake, you've accomplished the hardest part. All you have to do is find a few things that could make your mistake helpful.
If you recognize that you have a short attention span during meetings then try to stay active by taking notes, sipping on a drink or asking questions. If you mess up a report because you didn't double check your work then don't get mad at yourself; use this mistake to make the next report better. Being kind to yourself allows you to keep moving forward.
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.”
- Conrad Hilton
There may be moments or days of weakness, but you should always come back to learning from your mistakes. At the end of each day, try forgiving yourself for any mistakes. Whether it be a silly comment or a major blunder, you’ll notice that when you cultivate kindness for your mistakes you can use them as support for a better life.
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