The moment I realized it I broke into a sweat.

I had made a mistake in my new job. I had no idea how my boss would take it. For many years, I rarely admitted a mistake because I had spent time in personal and professional environments where it was never safe to be less than perfect. People focused on blame rather than solutions. Admit to one mistake, and you would be reminded of it for years.

I took a deep breath, knocked on my boss’ office door, and said, “I have to talk to you. I made a mistake.”

He smiled and replied, “Well, I’ve already made several this morning. Come on in, and we’ll talk about it.” And then we focused on a solution.

I began to realize how much energy I was wasting worrying or preparing myself in case something went wrong. I didn’t have to anymore. He knew I worked hard. I grew to trust him more.

More importantly, I grew to trust myself and let myself be perfectly imperfect.

Then I passed it on.

A friend didn’t show up for a date and called quite apologetic. She had forgotten and explained what had happened at home. I laughed and said, “Are you trying to tell me you’re not perfect?” A vendor made a mistake in the file, so I called him. We focused on a solution.

I recently read an article about a woman who said her dad required them to fail at something at least once per week and share it at Sunday dinner. That way they were always trying new activities, and mistakes were good things. They were signs of new adventures.

Today every day is a step outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I screw up. But my goal is to learn from it and go on to make new mistakes. Let’s change the idea of mistakes as a sign of growth. Go ahead. Make a mistake. Dare ya. What are you going to do now?



  1. motherhoodinsights on August 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Made mistake many times today also, one was this morning. I was in a hurry to drive son to school and forgot his bag and his food, I end up buying some biscuits for him and my 4yr old son told me, “mommy its ok, don’t do it again next time” LoOoL…

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      and out of the mouth of babes… 🙂

  2. Maria Stefanopoulos on August 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Absolutely making mistake is inevitable, we all make mistakes but let’s move on and learn from it 🙂

  3. Barbara Billig on August 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Some people focus on the mistake and will not let it go instead of focusing on the solution and moving on. Those that cannot get to the “moving on” stage get left behind.

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      It must be something I need to work on because I made a mistake in a personal relationship recently, and I couldn’t seem to let go of analyzing it. Then today I read a Neale Donald Walsch post on Facebook that shook me out of it. It said something like: Nothing is a mistake. There is benefit, a reason in everything.

  4. I LOVE the way your boss extended GRACE to you! What an awesome guy… You are blessed; not every boss is that understanding, had a few myself. Great share!
    Norma Doiron

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      I sent my former boss a link to the post and told him to read the comments, so he too has seen your compliment 🙂

  5. marthagiffen on August 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    What a fabulous post! Allowing ourselves to fail is one of the greatest lessons of self growth and you point that out so beautifully! I love that idea about the children around the table. We always asked ours about their day. SO wish I had known of this technique! It’s a wonderful way to help children grow. Thanks!

  6. Alexandra McAllister on August 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Catherine! Yes, I’ve made mistakes and will continue to do so. It’s all about how we deal with it. I accept it and move on. Of course, if it is something to be corrected, then I do it. I learn by my mistakes and to date, haven’t met anyone who hasn’t. We are human. It’s part of living and learning.

  7. Cathy Taughinbaugh (@treatmenttalk) on August 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Great to know that your boss was understanding and remembered that we all make mistakes. It would be stressful to be in a situation where everyone expected perfection, so it sounds like you have a much better work environment.

  8. Jeanne Rust, PhD on August 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for your story, Catherine — We do all make mistakes — I’ve learned to say, Oh, well while remembering that the only expectations I need worry about are my own!

  9. Sherie Venner (@trancingqueen) on August 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    You have an awesome boss! We all make mistakes and when we can acknowledge that and not play the blame game, then life is so much easier! Great post!

  10. Olga Hermans on August 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Love it; we are allowed to make mistakes, we grow from them because we see what can be done differently. Such a cool idea to share the mistakes on Sundays and see what came from it.

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      I was thinking at first that I wish that had been done for me — then it occurred to me I could do it myself. Every Sunday celebrate the new things I did and what I learned by any mistakes. 🙂

  11. Helena Bowers on August 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I make mistakes on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s stressful, but most of the time it’s fixable and becomes something to laugh about later. I can honestly say that some of the most memorable moments in my life have come as a result of mistakes.

  12. Tatyana Gann on August 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I say we should not worry about mistakes and label ourselves…Mistakes are little hicups…At least we see them. Some don’t good post


  13. marie leslie on August 15, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Doesn’t it feel good not to be a perfectionist? I’ve finally learned that the more quickly I learn to acknowledge and admit a mistake the more quickly I can make it right.

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      OMG yes, Marie! The sleepless nights I could have avoided lol.

      I find as I let others off the hook I am better at letting myself off the hook too.

  14. Anita on August 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Many years of my life I struggled with perfectionism and I am happy to say I love to learn from mistakes now. My only regret is I wish I had know earlier the freedom failure provides us 🙂

  15. Barbara J Peters (@CouplesAuthor) on August 16, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Mistakes are where we learn. If we learn, move forward, then a mistake can be a wonderful tool for learning!

  16. Elizabeth L Maness on August 16, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Ahh I had a perfect Mom so being perfect is something that I wish i could be but know I can’t. I feel deep shame when I mess up. ahh I love this post..;)

  17. Lessons in Life (@_Life_Lessons_) on August 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Great post Catherine. One of the most wonderful lessons in life I believe we can give ourselves in the lesson on making a mistake and learning from them. I’ve written about this on my blog as well.

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Great minds and all… 🙂

  18. Amy del Mar on August 18, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Catherine, I like the message that this is something that happens in healthy workplace environments and in a healthy home.

  19. Mandy Edwards (@memktgservices) on August 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Making mistakes is only human. It’s how we handle it that shows who we truly are!

  20. Chris Edgar on August 20, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Yes, the whole concept of “mistakes” seems unfortunate to me, because it pretends as if there are certain things we do that are objectively “wrong,” but there are really just things we do that others don’t happen to like. If I let go of the idea of “mistakes,” when someone doesn’t like what I’ve done, that may offer a learning experience, but it doesn’t require me to beat myself up.

    • Catherine on August 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      My grandmother and I used to do crafts together. We were painting cloth bags one day, and we both laughed that we had made mistakes (aka not in our plan) on the bags but the way we dealt with the mistakes made the bags more beautiful. I guess life’s like that too. It just takes longer to see the results .

  21. Sharon O'Day on August 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    At first I struggled with the difference between “making a mistake” and “failing.” Making a mistake was more like single instances when we did things that were reparable … While failure was like not meeting a goal. Until I realized that by making a mistake we were failing to meet a greater goal: the goal of perfectionism! Thanks for triggering that little mental voyage, Catherine!

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