The effects of focusing on your mistakes...

"Your emails are good Cath, but you had a spelling mistake in your last one. You should watch that in the future..."

This was the feedback from my father on one of my recent Flourish emails {he and mum are subscribers on my mailing list, bless them!}. To his credit, he actually reads each one - thanks dad - but it begs the question of what's more important... taking action with a few imperfections, or checking over something a thousand times, and never feeling like it's 'quite right' so you either waste a heap of time, or never end up doing the 'thing'?

I know what I'd prefer, and I know what the research says is a healthier option for our emotional and mental wellbeing...

So there are a few things happening in this scenario, and the first is what we focus on... 

When you receive feedback that's not glowing or flowing with praise, do you hone in on that 1 thing that was said, and ignore the 99.9% of positive feedback that accompanied the criticism? {I can fall prey to that sometimes, especially when I'm facilitating a workshop and read the written feedback provided at the end - I skim over all my 5/5 and zone right in on the one or two 3/5's in there - I'm my own worst critic sometimes!} 

It's very easy to do, but not necessarily healthy for us.

When we do something like this we're not focusing on the truth of the situation. The truth is that what you had done was almost perfect, but there is some room for improvement {which is what the feedback is indicating}. But instead, we can feel like we're a failure, and lead us to the conclusion that if we're can't do something perfectly then we may as well not try at all {or words to that effect}.

Surely, I'm not alone in this!? Tell me you too have beaten yourself up for something you did that didn't meet your expectations!?

What this indicates is a 'fixed mindset'. 

A fixed mindset is when we view outcomes in absolute terms; when things don't go to plan they are 'failures' that can't be changed. We can all have a 'fixed mindset' at times - it's most peoples' default when things don't turn out as we had hoped - and it results in living a life where you then do what you can to avoid 'failure', or avoid feeling like that again.  

But you see the path to success is paved with what you have learnt from having failed many times along the way - failure therefore is a necessary step in moving forward. 

Well that's some good news, isn't it?!

When you see failure for what it is - an outcome that has taught you something - you have adopted the opposite to a fixed mindset.

You have adopted a 'growth mindset' {go you!}

My favourite quote that indicates a growth mindset is that of Thomas A. Edison on inventing the lightbulb {amongst many other things - I wouldn't want to diminish his other achievements!!} - 

"I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work."

Nice one Tom!

Which brings me to the second point to my email, which is to say that taking imperfect action is better than taking no action at all for fear of failure.

Regardless of your default mindset {fixed or growth}, doing something is almost always better than doing nothing if the only thing holding you back is fear of failure.

So don't let the illusion of perfection paralyse you - even if what you do doesn't go to plan, it gives insight into what doesn't work, and can move you closer to finding out what does. Win win! There are no guarantees in life, and with a growth mindset, well, you never really fail, you just learn. Which is a very liberating way to live if you ask me!

So what did I learn from adopting a growth mindset and taking on board my dad's feedback...?

Find where the spell-check is on my email system, and use it ;-)

{Thanks dad!}

If any of this has resonated with you, feel free to drop me a line or schedule a Clarity Call to find out more about working with me.

Until next time!

With love + joy,

Cath xo

Catherine Doocey