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Why I’m Thankful for My Mistakes

Why I’m Thankful for My Mistakes

Gratitude is in our bones this week. Or at the very least, thrust into our culture all week long as many of us prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

In all honesty, I am constantly working on my gratitude attitude and recognizing gratitude moments with both my Connect For More team and family. Just like yoga, meditation, writing, art, sports… this is truly a practice and if I forget to stay mindful in this mindset it’s often like my muscles have atrophied. In short, this struggle for me is a real one. Especially when research shows that humans are genetically prone to focus on the negative as part of our survival instincts.

Nancy Negative persona aside, I like to pride myself on doing everything at least 115% (usually more if my caffeine has efficiently kicked in). That does, unfortunately, apply to when I make mistakes or (gasp!) “fail” at work or life.  In other words, I’m of the “Work hard, Play hard, Fail hard” mindset by design.

In an effort to share the “real” me – which is an often messier version of myself than most people really see – and show a little bit of my vulnerability, I’d like to share a few of my most recent – and perhaps most notable ones here. I’m grateful for each and every one of them – though perhaps only in hindsight did I become so – because they taught me important lessons that I’ve been able to use in my work and personal life.  They’ve checked me in a personal or professional way when I needed it most.

Calendar warfare.

Grateful MemeIn the past 10 days, I have gotten the days or times wrong at least 5 significant times. There was the time I went to our local National Philanthropy Day breakfast – only to realize it was the following day. The time I was finally on time to my gentle yoga class but was actually 45 minutes late because they had moved the class up an hour and was “too busy” to read the class notifications. Or the time that I scheduled an important meeting months in advance, only to forget it completely and still be in my pajamas when that person called to find out where I was. All of these were very clear signs for me that 1) I was trying to get too much done before the holidays, 2) I needed a break from work, and 3) I needed to get more sleep at night.

What are your mistakes telling you? Do you need to slow down and take a break, OR reexamine the work you’re doing and reprioritize what will have the most positive effect on your mission? How full is your tank and if it’s low, what are you doing to fill it?


Grateful MemeThere is an entire counterculture dedicated to this one and believe me most moms (and dads) don’t need people to remind us how many mistakes we make with our kids. They definitely don’t come with manuals and even twins are their own unique beings. Let me assure you, the kids are sometimes just as hard on you as you are on yourself. They’re like tiny little mirrors… that talk back.

Think of those you’re accountable to in life and work. How are they providing you feedback that could be valuable in gaining further insight into yourself? If you could help write the manual on parenting or leadership what would be your key lessons to share with another?

When the lights go out.

Just as I am notoriously known for not responding or reading emails, I am also notorious for letting our physical mail pile up at home. The problem is that I’m the one in charge of opening the mail. And for the most part, paying the bills. You probably can predict where this is going… The ancillary problem is that our local electric company is also well-known for terrible client communication and poor customer service. Picture me coming home to a dark house in the busiest time of the year, with my kids no less, and you’ll see why phone payments make sense for busy parents.

Picture a type you felt you screwed up royally. How did you handle the situation? In what ways could you have created comradery or learnings more than you did? Was there any part of the situation that you could have added comedy or fun to? Why or why not?

My first marriage.

Without going into all the sordid details I’ll say this… I could’ve been a better partner. I could’ve been kinder. I could’ve listened more to my husband – and my gut. I’ve could’ve believed what I observed. I instead chose to ignore, to dream, to believe in the potential and not see the person… and it bit me in the proverbial ass just as it had many times before. I thought I had gotten smarter with my relationship choices. And when it ended unexpectedly I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.

When have you made a choice or mistake where you weren’t living in your own integrity? How did it feel once that situation was over? What can you do in the future to live BIG?

All in all, as for my mistakes, I’ve made many. But I’m no longer scared to do so, nor am I of the belief that perfectionism is my goal. I’ve learned a lot about myself and those around me by these face-plant moments, the times in the arena as Brené Brown calls them. As we enter this full & busy time of year, I encourage you to think about how you can implement your own simple gratitude practice and be kind to yourself – and others – along the way.

In what ways have you “failed” as a leader? What did you do to remedy the situation, communicate your vulnerability with your team and/or turn the situation into a learning experience or win? Check out Dare to Lead and Happy, Healthy Nonprofit to learn more about how vulnerability, authenticity and self-care can improve your ability to lead others.

How can you put your lessons learned into practice for your future courageous leadership, parenting style or personal/professional improvement? Are you interested in creating your own gratitude practices and becoming more self-aware as a leader and/or parent? If you’re not sure where to start or want an accountability partner, we’d love to help! Contact Liz’s accountability partner at laura@connectformore.com to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.

About the Author: Liz Wooten-Reschke is President/CEO of Connect For More. CFM engages leaders and empowers philanthropists to help them accomplish their mission. As the lead consultant, Liz focuses her efforts on providing ongoing support & coaching for chief executives and volunteers of nonprofits, workshop & retreat facilitation, and customized engagements to enhance board governance, agency strategy and leadership experience with her clients. Liz is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer. She is a proud member of the University of South Florida Alumni Association Board, a fourth-generation Floridian and Key West Conch. She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her partner, four children, two dogs, and one cat. For more information about Liz or her work, please visit her company website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

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