We’re all human, and we all make mistakes, whether you’re a parent, a surgeon, or whatever it is you do in life.
Recently, I got involved with a program to trap feral cats, bring them to the Humane Society to be fixed, checked-over, and vaccinated. They are then released back to where they were trapped.
I set a trap in our backyard. The cat I caught appeared to be one the neighbor kids had tamed enough to handle. They considered it their pet. The woman from the feral cat program took the caged feline to the clinic. After the procedure, on her way out, the carrier fell apart and the cat ran away. That was 7 miles away from where we had trapped the cat.
I was crushed. In my mind, I could still see the little neighbor girl hugging that cat. I had played a part in losing her beloved pet.
This got me thinking. As our positive impact on other people’s lives increases, so does the impact of our mistakes. I think that’s why many of us fear stepping up. Think of a surgeon who’s unintended mistake disfigures someone for life.
Does this mean we should avoid taking on work that has bigger impact in our world. Absolutely not. But if you’ve been avoiding going to the next level in your work, this may be a factor. Many people feel much more comfortable letting others take the risks. It’s easier to sit back and envision how much better you would have done than the person who actually took the risk.
To go grow in our work, we may need to learn to deal with mistakes in healthier ways. We’ll want to face our mistakes and process them. Realizing that we need to mourn what happened, come to terms with the fact that we’re human and make mistakes, and learn to relate with others concerning our mistakes, especially those who are impacted by them. And, of course, we’ll want to learn from our mistakes.
As we become more comfortable with dealing with mistakes, we will no longer be held back by fearing them.
I could quit the feral cat program all together. Or I could continue to be involved and process my emotions about the incident—forgiving myself, allowing myself to mourn, and preparing myself to talk with the little girl if the lost cat is indeed the one she had adopted as her friend. And here’s what I learned. I no longer plan to put a trap in my backyard where there’s a higher risk of catching someone’s pet. Instead, we will place the traps near dumpsters where many feral cats hang out for food.
How do you feel about your mistakes? Is your attitude towards them limiting you from taking part in your world to your fullest?