Wellness Wednesday -April 19, 2023: MISTAKES AND FAILURE

Experiences we encounter have a major impact on the quality of our lives. One of these powerful experiences occurs when we make mistakes or fail. Given the importance of these moments in our lives, the next few Wellness Wednesdays will focus on how we experience mistakes and failure. The big question we want to consider is:

What happens to us in the moment of being wrong or failing and how does what happens in that moment impact our inner life…our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and future decisions?

If we are concerned about human development and wellbeing, we need to answer this question. In order to do so, let’s consider how human beings experience making mistakes or failing.

During many of our Top 20 training sessions, we have asked thousands of participants to go back in time when they were of school-age and recall how other people responded to them when they made a mistake or failed. “What did other people (parents, teachers, coaches, other adults, siblings, peers) say or do when you made a mistake or failed?”

Participants in our trainings commonly answer this question by acknowledging that others have:
 Laughed – Lost trust – Criticized – Became angry – Shamed – Humiliated – Judged – Been Disappointed – Yelled – Gave ‘the look’ – Told others – Isolated or ignored – Blamed…

They have also experienced others:
·      Saying things like: “What’s wrong with you?” or “What were you thinking?”
·      Bringing the mistake up over and over again.
·      Punishing them (being spanked, grounded or have privileges revoked).

In various ways, all of these responses are verbal and non-verbal messages. If these are the messages human beings receive when they make a mistake or fail, what would be the belief they would form about themselves: “I’m not good enough.”

The experience of making mistakes commonly results in human beings believing that they are “Not Good Enough.” If we want to diminish the human potential of people, all we have to do is convince them that they are Not Good Enough. Unfortunately, it appears in our culture that this is what often happens.

Knowing what is in store for them when they make mistakes or fail, people are left with one option: Don’t ever make a mistake. The only way to do that is to not try or disengage.

Sorry to dump such bad news on you in this week’s Wellness Wednesday. Fortunately, better news will be coming in the weeks ahead.

1. What do you recall other people saying or doing when you made a mistake or failed?
2. What belief have you formed about yourself that has stemmed from experiences of making mistakes or failing?

From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…who know the experience of making mistakes and failing.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training