On confidence, perfectionism and making mistakes
I’ve been thinking a lot about mistakes this week; two clients in very different situations have talked about their fear of making a mistake when they speak. How do you feel about mistakes?
When I was a classical pianist, they were something I certainly had to contend with!
If you have a tendency towards perfectionism, which has many tricky ways of showing up, this can manifest as an almost obsessive desire to avoid any kind of fumble or mistake.
And it’s a frighteningly constricted and tightrope-balancing act to enter a meeting or presentation space feeling this way.
In my first profession as a musician, I can tell you that we made mistakes; only recordings are ever perfect! And what we had to learn was that the most important part of that moment in time was what came after the mistake.
Miles Davis the jazz musician said it beautifully:
“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”
In other words: whether you fail or stuff up – in your eyes or your audience’s – is determined by what you do just after the mistake. That’s what matters, and what’s remembered.
If you don’t let a slip bother you, and you move on, then your audience either won’t even notice, or won’t care.
Re-visiting the mistake in your mind, or in my case flicking my eyes back up the page to see what I’d misread or slipped on, only means one thing – more mistakes!
You might like to notice how you see mistakes, both one of your own, or when you see others. Is it possible to reframe any aspect?
It’s certainly made a difference for my clients – if fear of making mistakes is an issue for you, I hope it does for you too.