When was the last time you messed something up?
This morning? Last week? Last month even? If you can't think back to when you did something wrong, maybe you're playing life a little bit too much on the safe side...
Our natural reaction to making mistakes is instinctively a bad one - we might feel embarrassed, frustrated or disappointed that we didn't get the outcome we'd hoped for or even expected. Unfortunately, most of us walk away from these scenarios feeling deflated, promising ourselves that we won't do anything to feel like that again.
The promise we're actually making ourselves though is that we're simply going to live really average lives.
Every single day we're faced with choices; the forks in the road that defines what happens next for us. Think of them like the real life version of those books you read as a kid where to choose your own adventure - do you choose to risk getting burned by the fire breathing dragon in the hope of reaching the mountains of gold, or do you decide to just pass and simply head home for tea?
Since launching my own business, I have spoken to numerous other small business owners and entrepreneurs who are held back by the fear of something going wrong or not working out. There might not be any fire breathing dragons in sight, but as a culture, we're reluctant to take risks and end up being out of pocket or looking stupid.
This culture of fear doesn't just apply in business, but in all aspects of life - our relationships, careers or when we have ambitious new ideas. We want to win big but we're not prepared to take the risks that come with that; however until we do, we are never going to grow and improve, we simply choose to settle for average.
You've got to screw a few things up if you're ever going to make them better, but instead of wallowing in what could have been, it's time to turn it around and give those mistakes some purpose.
As a yoga teacher, one of the key lessons I share in class is that you can't control your feelings, but you can take charge of your reactions. Our feelings are what comes up in the immediate aftermath of an event - it's what causes your body shake with anger, make your heart fall to the pit of your stomach or your head spin with excitement.
Our reactions a step on from that - when anger takes hold, do you lash out or take a breath? When the nerves kick in, do you choose to retreat into yourself or put your big girl pants on and face the music?
The way we deal with the mistakes that we make is no different. We can choose to feel deflated, to throw in the towel and declare that we can't do it. This is the path most people take when life gets hard. Alternatively, we can embrace the words of Rafiki - "the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it."
Yes, mistakes do hurt and they take their toll emotionally, but every emotional state has a pair. With happy, comes sad. With anger, comes fear and with surprise, anticipation. We live in a state of contrast and without knowing one side; we can't truly appreciate the other. It's in those times that we've known real fear or sadness that we learn the true depths of utter joy and happiness.
So what's the opposite of that emotion that we feel when we get something wrong?
When we put our head above the parapet and strive for something bigger and better, naturally we dream that it will be a success, but it's no fun if it's too easy and that is when we begin to get complacent. How boring would life be in a world where everything went our way? We will never strive for more when what we've got appears to be sufficient.
If something is going to be truly magnificent, I assure you that it's going to take on hell of a journey to get there. The struggles and failures that you experience with any new venture are what makes the good times so spectacular.
So next time you screw up, let yourself get mad, frustrated or embarrassed, but only for a short while. When your heart rate has slowed back down to a normal pace and your looking a little less flushed, take a breath. Figure out what you would have done differently and learn for next time.
Not convinced? Reflect for a minute on where you're at right now in your life, business or career. What has forced you to push for better than average? The chances are it was probably making a mistake.