Updated: Apr 9, 2022
We went the Science Museum, Valencia the other day. As a Londoner I've always maintained London museums are the best in the world. I stand corrected. My kids absolutely loved it. As a reward for being so inquisitive and asking lots of questions we said they could choose one thing each from the gift shop. My 5 year old chose a pendulum:
Within 5 mins of being home, my youngest had opened up his pendulum and managed to get all the balls tangled. I mean, SERIOUSLY tangled. It's impressive how he managed to do this in such a short space of time. Last night I started to unpick the tangles, using toothpicks. It was strangely meditative. My breathing slowed down, I had no devices on near me. Occasionally, I'd flip one of the balls over some strings and realise I shouldn't have done that. In my head I wanted to press CTRL Z to undo my last action. This got me thinking about life. Can we CTRL Z our lives? Should we?
It reminds me of that really good film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. The characters erased their painful memories of each other. Would you do the same? We have all made mistakes both big and small. What if we had the power to erase these mistakes from our memories? The benefits would be not feeling the pain, embarrassment and regret. But, what would we learn from this? Would we be destined to make the same mistake again? How do we evolve as people if we don't make mistakes and don't learn from them? As parents, my husband and I are advocates of a Growth Mindset. When our children slip up, we ask them:
What are the consequences of their actions/inaction
What they have learnt from this.
What they would do differently next time.
As a teacher I did the same both academically and pastorally. It always bothered me when teachers wanted to punish and yell at youngsters who had messed up. I felt it was more important to talk about those questions above in a calm manner. Behaviour is just another area we need to teach young people. They don't come out knowing how to behave, especially if they have poor role models at home.
How can we learn from our mistakes? 1. Instead of Control Z'ing it from your mind, OWN IT. Accepting the mistake is the first step to learning from it.
2. Instead of revisiting the mistake and dwelling on it, REFRAME IT. Ask yourself, what have you learnt from this? What will you differently next time?
3. Remember you are not your mistake. Try not to jump to conclusions about your own self-worth. NB NO-ONE IS PERFECT
4. Consider how you respond to other people making mistakes. Are you judgemental or FORGIVING? What about your inner voice? Does it need to be more forgiving?
5. As a leader cultivate a CULTURE of it being OK to make mistakes. This will encourage experimentation and innovation.
Mahatma Gandhi attached value to experimentation; he believed:
And the pendulum?
It has taken me around 7 hours over the last couple of days to unravel it. Like life, I made mistakes, my goal seemed unachievable at times, but I persevered. When the pendulum finally unravelled, the joy I felt was indescribable. My children have asked about my progress every few hours. I feel I've taught them a valuable lesson on grit and perseverance. I also feel an enormous sense of wellbeing having achieved this little feat.
Malarvilie Krishnasamy is a Leadership Consultant, Trainer & Coach. Get in touch if you are interested in 1:1 Coaching or Leadership / Coaching training for you and your team. firstname.lastname@example.org