I spend my days helping children learn from their mistakes.
Some as young as four-years old. Children who haven’t been on this Earth very long. Children who still look for our hand when they walk down the hallway. Children who sometimes call us Mom or Dad.
And here’s the thing. They do share their mistakes with us. We tell them that it’s okay to make mistakes. That that’s how we learn. It’s all a part of growing up.
Yet, what do we, the grown-ups, do with our mistakes?
We lock them up.
We try to forget them.
We hide them from the rest of the world.
This is just our first time playing this game called Life. And if it’s not. Well then what are we worried about anyway?
Social media is an amazing tool. It has forever changed our access to the world in which we live. We see everything. Or do we? I contend that far too often we are not. As Hope King, teacher at the Ron Clark Academy, says social media is a highlight reel. And while it is quite entertaining and fun to watch, it often doesn’t give us the full picture. They are not even close.
This image, created by George Couros’, was adapted from comedian Demetri Martin and included in Couros’ piece What Success (and Learning) Really Look Like, which talks about how learning can often be a messy process. And I couldn’t agree more.
So if we know this, then why aren’t we sharing more of our squiggles? Why aren’t we pointing out more of our backward strokes? I think it’s time we start. Because when we do, it will not only give others courage to do the same, it will also allow others to learn from our mistakes.
Ten amazing seconds last year convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am right. Let me explain.
Last year when my daughter decided to sign up for soccer, I was excited. See, I grew up playing soccer and absolutely loved the sport. It was going to be my daughter’s first time playing on a team and I was curious to see how she would enjoy the experience. I was also a little bit nervous for her since she had never played soccer before and she just so happened to be the only girl on the team. Not that that mattered to me. I just wasn’t sure how she would handle all this newness.
It was amazing! She had a blast, despite the fact that she was still learning the sport. Most importantly, she had a coach who was positive and caring and did everything he could to make her feel good about herself.
What more could a parent wish for?
Well I’ll never forget the practice that had the potential to make or break my daughter’s self-esteem. Towards the end of practice the coach decided to have the team scrimmage against themselves.
No big deal. They had done this before and it was something that the kids seemed to enjoy. Towards the end of the scrimmage the ball rolled right to my daughter and she immediately kicked it and scored a goal.
The only problem was.
Iit was for the other team!
These are the kinds of moments that have the potential for tears.
These are the kinds of moments that can shatter confidence.
These are the kinds of moments that can rewrite lifescripts.
Neither of the above happened!
Not long after she scored a goal, for the other team, they took a quick water break. I was holding her bottle and as she ran over to me I was prepared for the worst.
Instead, what took place was magnificent!
My daughter said to me,
Daddy you and I now have something in common!
I couldn’t believe it.
You see one day, I don’t recall exactly when, I had shared with my daughter how I had once scored a goal for the opposing team. When I was in high school! During sudden death overtime!
She had remembered the fact that, I too am human and that, I too make mistakes. Wow! I was so happy that I had shared that mistake with my daughter.
Because just imagine if I hadn’t.
I’m glad I don’t have to.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
I learned that the sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect.
I am issuing a challenge. Start sharing your mistakes.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start.
It’s time we start unabashedly sharing our mistakes.
I am officially throwing down the gauntlet. If you want to consider yourself a great leader and/or a great teacher, then you must start sharing your mistakes. And when you do, I want you to include the brand new hashtag #MyBad16. Why the 16? Because 2016 is the year that we start a paradigm shift.
And I’d like to take it a step further. If you are serious about becoming a part of this paradigm shift, then I am issuing you an open invitation. An invitation to appear on my radio show My Bad’ featured on the Bam Radio Network.
If you curious to see who the first person was to accept the challenge then click here. There’s not a person in education today who didn’t already consider my first guest to be a great leader. But I think you’ll be interested to hear what they shared. It just might surprise you.
So if you enjoyed the first episode, don’t stop there. Take a listen to the second.
And more episodes are soon to come.
Because mistakes are being made every day.
First Episode: “The Day I Lost It With A Student”
Second Episode: “I Am Not A Perfect Teacher, I Have To Be Okay With That”