"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Our Errors Can Enhance Us...

Welcome Back, Readers!
Double your pleasure this week with two posts; since I am back on the scene earlier than I expected.
Today's post addresses a timely topic that I hope you'll find inspiring.
If so, let me know. I love your comments and questions.
Now, for today's post...
Most of us have been socialized and conditioned to perceive them as bad things.
They embarrass us. Cause us to question our judgement. They reduce us like Christmas merchandise in January.
But they don’t have to. If we reframe our thoughts, we can embrace the possibility that not all errors are necessarily damaging and detrimental in nature. In fact, depending upon how we address them, and their related lessons, they can be a positive thing.
Especially for our creative careers.
Not convinced? Read on.
Take the example of talk show host and award-winning author, Steve Harvey. Who can forget when he made the ultimate blunder in front of MILLIONS of viewers? Harvey announced the wrong winner for the Miss Universe Pageant. Ouch! For weeks afterwards, people criticized and vilified him in social media circles and late night comedic routines. Some thought it meant suicide for his professional career. Ultimately, it didn’t.
Fast forward. He ended up with more gigs and endorsements; one new show airs in March. This just reveals how forgiving and charitable we can be as humans, and that if the right “damage control” is applied, even things gone wrong can work out in our favor.
And what about Paula Deen? Some of you may recall in former years when she alienated the Black community by making some “off-colored” jokes about people of color. The “fall-out” caused her to lose quite a few followers and some significant revenue as well. She has since then apologized and is being “restored” in the eyes of some of her previous fans.
As a wise person once wrote: “Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why erasers were made.”
I used to avoid mistakes at all cost. I would ruminate, deliberate and procrastinate until I could arrive at just the “perfect” decision. I was paralyzed by the fear of perceived consequences. Making a mistake, years ago, would cause me to hang my head in sorrow, or confine me to bed, replaying the scene in my head over and over again, losing sleep and peace.
Like the time I accidentally sent a carbon copy of an email on a client’s project to the wrong person. Yikes! I was certain that once I disclosed my mistake to her, she would pink-slip me. Much to my surprise, she didn’t. Instead, she respected my honesty and continued to work with me until this very day.
And, I must admit, no matter how diligently I strive for perfection, I am plagued by periodic errors: Blog post gaffes, punctuation mishaps, emails sent without the intended attachments.
And no doubt, you’ve goofed too. True?
But, here’s what I’ve discovered along the way… (as a "recovering perfectionist") that has enabled me to move forward with greater grace and wisdom.
When you make a mistake own it.
Apologize and move forward. People will respect you more if you do.
 I've learned that accountability shows maturity.
Learn the lesson.
If you don’t gain perspective, you lose the opportunity to grow
in character and wisdom.
Recognize that most errors are not permanent.
I've discovered that “this too shall pass.”
One thing that helped Steve Harvey to save face in his pageant mix-up was that he chose to   make fun of himself; enabling others to laugh with him, not at him-- through his subsequent  Twitter posts and humorous videos. Of course, he graciously and sincerely apologized to everyone first.
Recognize that errors can help us to identify needed areas of improvement.
Consider how many times Edison and other innovators "failed" before arriving at the right answers that led to useful modern-day inventions.
Errors humble us.
And humility helps us to seek God.
Forgive yourself.
Many times we are much harder on ourselves than those doing the judging. “To err is human.”

Handled properly, our errors can enhance us, make us more strategic, stronger and wiser; if we heed the lessons they impart.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we should approach our work casually or without the desire to maintain high standards of excellence.
To not do so would be the greatest “mistake.”

The key here is not to let the fear of making mistakes keep you from sending out that manuscript, or making decisions about your freelance business, or trying something new, or moving forward after a failure.

You’re better than that.


  1. I so needed to read this today! I have a big career decision to make and I'm sooo afraid it'll be a mistake that will drum me out of the corps. But, deep down I think I've gotta do it. So, if it's a mistake, I'll expect to be able to cry on your shoulder, Jen. K? Great post!

    1. Sue,

      Say what? You have a big career decision to make and you didn't consult me first? :-) I'm sure things will work out fine. And if not, you'll write a great story in the aftermath...

  2. Here again, you have given me some things to ponder.

    1. Quietspirit,

      That's what I'm here for. :-) Best wishes. Thanks for your time.

  3. Ah, quite the balm for an overthinker like me. :) Thanks for this wonderful reminder!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 11, 2016 at 10:01 AM

      You're very welcome, Karen! :-)