“If you’re making mistakes, I it means you’re trying”
Sometimes the only way to make progress is to get it wrong, learn, and try again.
This can be very intimidating. I personally hate getting it wrong, which means that often I hold myself back and don’t even try, for fear of feeling silly or “looking bad”.
This is very unfortunate, because I know that I miss out on a lot.
I’m not sure when it started, but I know that during PE in school, I usually got picked last for the team if we were playing sports, probably because I would huddle somewhere in the back, missing to catch the ball on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to participate.
If there was a risk of being “bad” I’d rather not be part of it at all. I was way to self-conscious.
This has carried over to other areas of my life as I’ve grown older. I would probably rather stay at the same job, or do the same things at work, instead of going for new experiences, unless I’m forced to, preferring to play it safe and “know what I’m doing”.
So do we get comfortable making mistakes?
As far as I know, we don’t.
At least I haven’t. I still thoroughly dislike getting it wrong. But I know that that is often what it takes in order to eventually get it right.
So my advise is; get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Or, focus on the rewards of the discomfort; learning a new skill, personal growth, feeling more self-confident, for example.
I vividly remember the day of my first test during my yoga teacher training in India.
I was so nervous I felt like there was a very real risk of puking in front of my entire class. I was wondering why in the world I had signed up to do this. Paid money to do this.
We were to demonstrate a sun salutation, a couple of postures, and, worst of all, do some chanting. In front of everyone. I’ve heard somewhere that a lot of people fear public speaking more than they fear death and I was starting to understand why. Now imagine public singing. In sanskrit!.
All the students lined up along the walls on either side of the classroom, facing the middle where our teacher was sitting on a chair. We got called, one by one, and I watched my classmates do their routines. Everyone did fine, but no-one was “perfect”.
As the teacher moved down the list of names the butterflies in my belly were growing to elephant size.
My name got called and I got up, unrolled my mat and started. The postures were okay, I felt like I had it under control, knew what I was doing. Then it was time for the chanting. My hands were shaking and my voice was shaking, but I knew it had to be done.
So I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath and I sang…
“Om sahana-vavatu, sahanau bhunaktu
Tejasina-vadhi-tamastu ma vidvisavahai
Om shanti shanti shanti”
“May He protect both of us. May he indeed nourish us. May we perform wonderful feats in our endeavor. May our brains be sharpened. May we have no disharmony and conflict. Om peace, peace, peace.”
It’s a short mantra. I sang and I bowed down to my teacher and then it was over and I got up, rolled my mat up and on shaky legs I went back to my place by the wall and sat down.
I closed my eyes again and this time I said a prayer, from the bottom of my heart; thank you thank you thank you God, I survived!
I felt like I was on the top of the world!
But you know what? I actually got it wrong. When our teacher gave us feedback afterward, she said the postures were fine but the chanting wasn’t great, I had pronounced something wrong.
But in my mind, just the fact that I did it at all made me super successful.
And the next time we had a test and I had to chant, it was still quite nerve-racking and I probably still got it wrong. But it was easier (ever so slightly) and even though I still get nervous before teaching a yoga class, I’m getting better, and every time I make a mistake, I learn something that I try to remember for next time.
Unfortunately there is no way around this, we have to be brave and make mistakes and dust ourselves off and get up again and keep going if we’re gonna grow. Theres a beautiful quote that I love that really resonates with me and it says:
“Remember that bravery is not the lack of fear, but the ability to move forward in spite of fear”.
Be brave, make mistakes!