Admitting My Mistakes

When I'm out in the world trying to do work that I love, work that makes an impact with my community, there are two forces of nature that really kick the crap out of me.  

1) Resistance


Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance, Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. You might call it stage fright or writer's block or a case of the Mondays.


Resistance is the force that whispers in your ear, "Who do you think you are?", "They're all going to laugh at you.", "Nobody's going to like this.".


It's the cold sweat we break into whenever we're about to make a ruckus in the universe; it's our fear of being seen as a fraud by our peers, the fear of being alone, the fear of being ostracised.


The solution to Resistance is always to ignore it, to work through it, to launch anyway. The solution is to remind ourselves that we are in fact not going to die, that this is simply a misfiring of our amygdala. The solution is to decide that our work is more important than our discomfort.


(Steven Pressfield writes about Resistance brilliantly in his book, Do The Work. You should check it out)


2) "I Messed Up"


"I Messed Up" is for me, almost more difficult to deal with than Resistance.


"I Messed Up" is a special kind of shame that I feel when I know I've screwed up, when I didn't do what I said I would, when I was lazy, when I was selfish, when I procrastinated, when I let my team down.


It's my fear that everyone is going to hate me because of what I did.


The fear of the "I Messed Up" feeling is what keeps me from wanting to work on anything important, it's what tries to convince me that I should live under a rock for the rest of my life and never make any promises to anyone ever again - that way, at least, I'll never have to feel like I let someone down, like I broke my word.


This feeling is excruciating because there's only one solution: Go to your team, to the people you let down. Admit what you did, and the impact it will have on the project. Apologize. Ask forgiveness.


It sucks, but it's the only way forward. We can get better and better at keeping our word, and that's a noble cause, but we're probably never going to get to a point where we never mess up.


If we're going to be out there doing work we love, we've got to practice being honest with our community and admitting our mistakes.