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  • Kelly Marks

Mistakes

This past Monday was incredibly Monday-ish. That means Murphy’s law was in effect; if something could have gone wrong, it did. If there was a mistake that could have been made, I made it. And I did.


I made a scheduling snafu that had a cascading effect. It certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but it threw me into enough of a panic to make me question everything else on the entire calendar.


I paid a bill online that was $69.91. I inadvertently paid $69.61, and immediately got a new bill for 30 cents which irritated me on at least 2 levels. First, there was the fact that they would bill me for 30 cents, and believe me, there were several snarky comments made under my breath about the fiscal fortitude of a company and how were they possibly able to stay in business without my full 30 cents?


Second, and most importantly, I was frustrated and angry with myself that I had just made another careless error.


It is so easy to go down a rabbit hole of : “What is WRONG with me? How can I not perform simple tasks?,” to extrapolate an error into a major character flaw, to go into a tailspin.


When I speak to organizations, especially women’s groups, I always warn them of one of the pitfalls that people, and most especially women, face: if we can’t do everything perfectly we don’t count at all. That is the philosophy that the world feeds us and that we feed ourselves. We are so anxious to have a seat at the table that we feel not only do we have to prove ourselves, but that proof had better be perfection itself.


No one can do everything perfectly, and that is why it’s important for women especially, to know their strengths and weaknesses and quit buying into the idea that they should be doing everything equally well. I know for certain that in our business if I did taxes and payroll, Paul and I would both be doing 5 -10 in a maximum security prison. Details just aren’t my forte. Knute Rockne, the great Notre Dame coach, advised, “Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.” Yikes, I have my work cut out for me.


In my November 10th blog post, “Oops, I Did It Again,” I talked about the science behind how mistakes can grow your brain. I even lamented at the time about the size my brain must be; well, apparently there’s room for more growth.


A few weeks ago, I saw a dynamic speaker, Sanyin Siang, at Duke University. She asked everyone to think of something they are good at, and then she asked a few people to share. Then she asked everyone to think of something they’re NOT good at. Again, she asked a few people to share. Then she asked those same individuals to share their limitations again but this time add the word YET at the end. What a difference it made!


The word “potential” means it’s possible. It’s a maybe. I have the potential to overcome my lack of detail-orientation. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. But “yet” suggests it’s going to happen; it’s on its way. It changes our outlook and our expectations.


While it’s easy to go down that rabbit hole of self-doubt, we have to learn to shake it off and use these little setbacks as reminders to focus and work harder. And since it seems like these “reminders” happen to me about every 4 months, I’ll probably be talking to you again in July about this.





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