We All Make Mistakes
We seem to be obsessed with everything being perfect these days, when actually, that for me isn’t real life! How comfortable are you with making mistakes? Getting stuff wrong? Talking about it instead of pretending it was perfect first time and sharing it with the world? As a parent, I’m getting a whole different view of this...
Let’s look at the faults
I was doing Kaleb’s homework with him the other day and he sat intently just practising his letters and writing his sentences. He’s only just six years old and doing lots of work on joined up writing at the minute. He takes such pride in his work - that’s not just me saying that, it’s what his teachers are saying too - which I think is a great attribute at his age.
Then he came over to me when he was finished and said, “Look Mammy, all done - but these two letters aren’t very good. They’re not formed very well.”
I looked at him in astonishment, he looked so worried! “Kaleb, your writing is really great and it’s improved sooo much. Look at your how straight your lines are, each word is all joined up, you haven’t had to cross out much at all! It’s brilliant!”
His little face showed relief. He beamed at me.
It really hurt me that already, at this young age, he is drawn to find the negative, seeking out the bits that weren’t perfect rather than celebrating that he had sat all on his own and written four well formed sentences with good solid joined up handwriting. I hated that he was anxious that his work wasn’t perfect.
I then flipped back just a couple of months in his book to show him the progress he has made, how much more control he has of his pen, how much more consistent the size of his writing is and the improvement in the appearance of his work.
It really struck me in that moment, the gravity of not getting these conversations right. The difference it will make in the longer term for him if he’s not able to celebrate the good rather than focusing only on the areas for improvement.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way trying to raise a child who has blind spots. I certainly don’t blow wind up his butt just for turning up! I expect him to really apply himself and show up to the best of his abilities in everything he does. What I don’t want is a little man growing up thinking that perfectionism is good - because I think the opposite. For me perfectionism gets in the way of progress and learning. We just rub (or airbrush!) it out and act like it doesn’t exist, so sometimes we don’t see the imperfect stuff. But it’s there! And that’s totally ok. It just needs to be in proportion.
Role-model or not?
Then it led me to thinking - am I role-modelling that behaviour? Or do I pick faults with myself, with my work when I’m complimented. Do I stand back and look at our achievements as a business and be proud, or do I stand back and think…’We should be further, we should have done more by now, we should be on Oprah by now…’ Probably!!!
So I made a commitment there and then sat with my son, that I will not seek (quietly and pretending not to) perfectionism in any way shape or form. I will celebrate the mistakes - I will not airbrush our lives. I will show him that it’s ok to get stuff wrong and be confident enough to talk about that in a positive way. I will demonstrate to him that we celebrate all the good we do, see and achieve over and above everything else.
So my advice to me which I share with you today;
Look for the good stuff and celebrate that in your work, in your day, in your life before you find the imperfections
Embrace the imperfections - they are real, they are learning in progress and they’re part of your life lessons
Celebrate all of it!
Be you, be real, be happy.
Love and hugs,