We are human beings that make mistakes. It’s impossible to go through life without taking some wrong turns, isn’t it? Of course our mistakes will vary as much as the lessons or growth we experience from them. And while there’s nothing quite as effective as hands-on learning, we can also learn something from other people’s stories. I enlisted help from a generous group of wonderful colleagues (Andrea Sharb, Cena Block, Peggy Pardo, Sheila Delson, April Lane Benson, Susan Lasky, Yota Schneider, and Sue West.) I asked them, “Can you describe a personal mistake or failure, which was accompanied by learning and growth?” Their responses are poignant, motivating, and inspiring. My deepest gratitude goes to each of them for bravely sharing their lessons with us. If you’re grappling with unresolved mistakes or feelings of failure, keep reading to discover some powerful, forward-thinking strategies that might work for you.
Can you describe a personal mistake or failure, which was accompanied by learning and growth? . . .
“A significant source of failure for me: taking on too much, becoming overwhelmed and not completing tasks as a result. For many years I felt like I was failing everyday. An ADHD diagnosis and learning about how my brain works helped build awareness around what was happening so I could begin to slow this cycle. Now, a couple of my daily best practices questions help me maintain an ongoing awareness around this:
Is this new opportunity just shiny, or will it truly energize me in the long run?
Am I relying on found time to get to what's most important?"
Andrea Sharb, CPO-CD®, ACC®, COC®, CPO® – Professional Organizer & ADHD Productivity Coach
Letting Go of Perfection
“One thing I struggled with early on in business was waiting till I had it 'right' before launching something new. It didn't matter whether it was a class, a blog post, a workshop, or a new pricing package… I was stopped because it didn't feel 'ready'. This is something with which I know many mompreneurs struggle. Getting it right is largely connected to the hidden insecurity of not feeling good enough. (YES, those insecurities always seem to be lurking behind the scenes!) So, my PERSONAL MISTAKE was to wait, wait, wait… and use 'getting it right' as an excuse to stay stuck. When I hired a coach, and she held this 'pattern' up so I could see it, I set a date and launched - in all my imperfection. What I learned was that waiting to launch to make it perfect was safer. Launching was more risky - but ultimately served MORE people… and allowed me to let go of the perfection.”
Cena Block – Business Coach, Author & Speaker
“Most of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life have happened when I didn't listen to the ‘little voice inside my head’, call it instinct or intuition, and instead listened to others because I wasn't confident enough in my abilities. Hindsight has taught me to pay attention to what my gut is telling me and trust my own judgment. This has helped me to develop confidence in my decisions and talents.”
Peggy Pardo – Interior Decorator, Professional Organizer, Author, & Blogger
Doing No Harm
“One big personal mistake: assuming too much reliance and trust on others over myself. Betrayal and abandonment resulted when I was given an ultimatum over someone I wanted to marry – their way or the highway. I chose "my way!" An excruciating lesson thirty years ago became my greatest blessing since. I've learned the value of forgiveness and tolerance of other’s mistakes, and my own as well. We all try to do the best we can. Today this lesson impacts my daily decisions both personally and professionally. Whenever possible – do no harm!”
Sheila Delson, CPO-CD® – Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization
“Over thirty years ago, my husband began a retirement account for me that I contributed to each year. He did extremely well and my small initial investment grew by a multiple by 30! The tech bubble burst. I lost about 80% of that paper profit. I got extremely angry and took the management of the account away from him, which made him very angry. I put what money was left in a hedge fund and lost almost all the rest! What I learned was that I needed to totally trust my husband who had already more than proved himself.”
April Lane Benson, Ph.D. – Psychologist & Author
“As a professional organizer, I am ‘supposed’ to stay organized. As a productivity coach, I am ‘supposed’ to walk my talk. As a human being, I often fall short. For a long time, I felt this dichotomy between knowing and doing made me an imposter. Even though I was frequently successful in following my own advice, I was never consistent, so how could I advise clients?
A wonderful thing happened when I learned to truly accept myself, with humor and grace (which also became Step #2 in my 7-Step PowerPlan to Success). As I shared my challenges with prospects and clients, their reaction was totally supportive and even relieved that I wasn’t ‘perfect.’ They felt I deeply understood their issues, and could help them break free from their own inner critic.”
Susan Lasky, M.A., SCAC – Board Certified Coach & Professional Organizer
“I've had my share of mistakes but once I begin to think about them in terms of the growth and learning that followed, they stop looking like mistakes. Of course not every mistake is accompanied by meaningful growth. There are mistakes I've made that simply highlight an aspect of myself that needs to be known.
What comes to mind is how I left corporate. I hadn't been happy for a while but instead of thinking it through, I just quit. As a result, I've had to backtrack numerous times and learn how to deal with the aftermath. I had to learn how to build a business from the ground up, keep going despite the obstacles, and forgive myself for not knowing it all. I believe I am a better coach because of all I've been through.”
Yota Schneider, Seasons of Change Certified Master Coach – Life Transitions Coach, Workshops & Retreat Facilitator, Blogger, & Mindfulness Meditation Practitioner
Listening to Intuition
“I was a late bloomer to listening to the inner, intuitive voice which is uniquely mine. Any time that quiet whisper of a voice spoke to me, I ignored it, not believing in it. The growth came through learning to feel my feelings, so that my voice would grow louder and stronger. The learning came about due to errors of experience, through work with a therapist who didn't let me get away with intellectualizing, my work with clients who taught (and teach) me more than they will ever know, and my coaching program, where I learned even deeper listening skills.”
Sue West, CPO-CD®, COC® – Organizing & ADHD Coach
The deep knowing that each person has experienced by making mistakes, choosing wrong paths, and failing is so inspiring. We’ve all been there. It can be painful to grow. However, the silver lining is that we can use those lessons to have healthier, more productive, and happier lives. We can also use our experiences to help others.
Which lessons resonate with you? Do you have a personal learning experience to share? Come join the conversation.