Thank God for our Mistakes

Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone and for the life of you, you can’t remember their name? They clearly know yours, but the time has long passed where you can gracefully ask for theirs! This was the uncomfortable situation I found myself in today.

I received a call from a man who I knew. His daughter ran for me on my cross-country team and we had made a good connection through that. In fact, it was because of that connection that he was gracious enough to be calling to give me a lead on a contact who was interested in learning more about my START Right program. It was a really good conversation… and by the end… I was still drawing a blank on his name.

At the beginning of the conversation, I didn’t give it much thought. Figured I would remember as we talked. After all, I knew who he was. I could picture his face. I knew his daughter’s name. It would come to me, I said to myself. Of course, I did. What I should’ve done was stopped and asked him for his name. But my embarrassment over the fact that he was calling me, going out of his way to connect me with someone — I thought the least I owed him (right… for him, not me, of course 😉) was pretending that I knew his name.

Unfortunately, I let the phone call reach its end without asking him for his name. And for what? All in a quest to avoid showing my humanity. That in my human-ness I forgotten his name. Somehow deluding myself that if he thought so well of me, I had to appear perfect lest he withdraw his regard.

Perfection or perfectionism is not attainable, and we honestly should be thankful because it is corrosive to forward progress. It assumes a limit to one’s ability to surpass a certain level of excellence. It inhibits trying. Perfectionism doesn’t allow for there to be change — change in another person’s possible reality, or in the circumstances surrounding a situation.

What is attainable is perfect effort. Within perfect effort lies possibilities. Possibility of success, but more importantly, the possibility of setbacks. It is our setbacks that are the birthplace of ingenuity, learning (possibly someone’s name?), resilience, improvement, and the elevation of oneself physically and mentally. No one has ever gotten better through winning. No one has ever gone back to the drawing board and found ways to improve themselves because of their winning streak. Vital information that was sought out because of uncomfortable emotions surrounding our humanity like embarrassment, shame, sadness, or self-doubt would be completely and utterly set aside, or worse, never found if all we ever did was win.

So, proverbial hat in hand, after stepping back to reflect on my fears, shame, embarrassment and work through a big dose of genuine discomfort, I hit redial on my phone to acknowledge my humanity and ask my generous benefactor his name! Next time I’ll own my mistake a bit sooner — humble pie is definitely easier to swallow when it’s only a forkful.

I’m sure I’m not alone. What’s something you’ve improved on for yourself? I’d love to hear about your progress. Please share in the comments below.