Dear :Preston: How Do You Get Over Mistakes?


unnamed-2Dear Preston:

My client just called to let me know that there was a miscalculation on an invoice and I am so upset. She wasn’t angry, but I just kept apologizing. She told me it wasn’t a big deal, but I just can’t let it go. I have been so overwhelmed lately and I am making one mistake after another and it’s really killing my confidence. I am not scared of making more and it’s paralyzing me.

Confidence Boost

Dear Boost:

If there is one thing I know as an infallible truth it is that we all make mistakes. In fact, we make a lot of them. The best way to make less of them is to stop, think about what you could have done differently, extract the lesson and move forward. That doesn’t mean we won’t make them anymore (the more we learn, the more mistakes we will make), it simply means we will repeat less of them. Boost, your client is a wise woman. Getting so caught on the hook of a misstep that they can’t move forward doesn’t do anyone any favors–just fix the issue as quickly and best as you can and move on. Going on and on only makes it seem much worse than it is. Speaking candidly, I think the pressure you are placing on yourself could make “failure” a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have seen a lot of smart people really ruin their chances at happiness and doing their best job by expecting themselves to be “perfect”. Instead of holding onto the many things they have done well, they allow the smallest mishap to derail them. I can tell you both as an artist and business owner, it’s just not productive. My staff will tell you that I will always point out when something needs to be done better, but I believe that harping on it is a waste of time. There’s too much work to be done and we need to reserve our energy and use it to make progress.

Here’s my advice: Make a fresh start. Make a decision right now to pause, take a deep breath and let go of what has been done. Take a walk in nature, go for a run, meditate…do whatever it takes to close out the chapter and let go of the fear that is of no value to you, your team or your clients. When you have taken your moment, reemerge into your space with a commitment to giving your best every day. Think of your daily objectives and go slow and strategically through your tasks. Pay attention to the times you achieve your goals and do well as often as you notice when you fall. I have a feeling what you need is a simple change of perspective to know that you not only can do everything you set your mind to, but you can do it well.

Readers: Do you get paralyzed by the idea of perfection?