Newsweek’s article on the last page of the magazine is called, “What’s Your Favorite Mistake?” Well, we don’t usually promote our mistakes, much less have a favorite! When wealthy entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson started the Virgin Atlantic airlines he wanted a way to advertise without spending too much money (We entrepreneurs can relate!). So he built the Virgin Atlantic Challenger to break the record for the fastest speed boat to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Two hundred miles from England, the boat broke in two. Branson says, “As the helicopters and press were flying over, the only thing that was sticking out of the water was the big Virgin (airlines) sign on the boat.” Branson’s failed trip became a much bigger story than if he had been successful. The next year he built another boat and did break the speed record. Branson says, “Trying things – even if you fall flat on your face – is more important than not trying at all. And if you do fail at something, you should pick yourself up and keep trying until you succeed.”
My own mistake happened years ago. I was right in the middle of giving a speech to a large number of women and had to stop and excuse myself to go to the restroom. I actually got down from the stage (in my flowing superwoman costume), wound my way through the crowd to the women’s room in the back of the theater. Thank goodness I turned my mic off ( Wait a minute, did I turn my mic off? Omg, I hope I turned my mic off!).
In that moment, I thought that an all women audience would think this was hysterically funny. I sure did! I joked about how having three kids changes things biologically in more ways than one. Well, they didn’t laugh, not one giggle. Unlike Branson, the mistake didn’t make me more successful that day. I still cringe when I think about it. And up until now, I’ve rarely admitted this mistake to anyone, especially any of my speaking colleagues. To this day, I don’t know how the client who had hired me felt about my untimely break, but I certainly didn’t get asked back next year!
Well, like Branson says, I did try again and since then I’ve learned to hold it all in when I’m on stage. Wow, it feels so good to get this off my chest. I didn’t realize until now, that what I’ve really been holding onto all these years is shame. And you know what? Holding onto this shame no longer serves me! So, big deal, I had to go! Sex and the City, author Candace Bushnell, says, “You have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.” Well, I let go alright! And I’m letting go of this shame from now on too. This is definitely my favorite mistake – for now. I hope to have more, because if we’re not making mistakes, then we’re not really living.
So, what’s your favorite mistake?