I was sitting at our kitchen table, savoring my morning cup of coffee (okay, my second morning cup of coffee…) and my daughter sat down beside me. She opened her hand and revealed a little trinket, a cake-shaped eraser. “Look, I got a prize for making a ‘favorite mistake’ yesterday in class,” she said.
Huh? A favorite mistake?
She went on to explain that she tried something, got it mostly right, but then at the end she messed something up. Her teacher then rewarded her with a prize for making a “favorite mistake.”
How incredibly fantastic is that?!
Pushing Back on Perfectionism
My daughter fights perfectionism. Unfortunately, I think that came to her via my DNA. I am elated that her teacher is helping her not only accept mistakes but celebrate those mistakes.
Immediately, I emailed her teacher, with tears in my eyes, because what she gave my daughter was a huge gift (so much more than the little trinket!). I also love to affirm others when I see them going out of their way to love and serve others well. After gushing to her about what an incredible educator she is and how I value her wholehearted teaching, this is what she said:
“Their mistakes make my lessons better. Her face totally changed when she realized it was my favorite mistake! She still didn’t love being wrong, but it makes her, and everyone else, realize how much I value taking risks!”
Can she be my teacher, too!?
Seriously! What would our workplaces look like if Starbucks gift cards were handed out to the employee who made the “favorite mistake” of the day? How would innovation flourish if people felt emotionally safe to try things, knowing they might fail just a little. Instead of sitting quietly in meetings, allowing others to brainstorm, I imagine they would jump in confidently.
I’m walking away from this experience challenged to own my mistakes with a fresh resolve and a zest-like embrace. Instead of feeling sheepish in the face of a failure, I am committing to celebrating my attempts. When I get something mostly right, and miss by just a little, I am going to be proud of all that went right instead of dwelling on the little bit that went wrong.