Skillfully Navigating Mistakes

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak.

We all make ‘em.

When is the last time you made a mistake?

My most recent mistake was last night. (Hahaha! I wrote “My last mistake was last night” in my first draft—as if! Though there’s an interesting thought, what if I never made another mistake? Well, I’ll never find out the answer to that question!)

… I expected a course to be available to me, based on my mental calculation of dates, and so wrote customer service to ask about the “problem.“ A little while after writing the email, I realized my error. I immediately wrote to them and apologized for my error. Honestly, it was easy, in part, because it was so clear that I was wrong, and perhaps also that I didn’t have a relationship with them or a position to protect in this instance. Food for thought!

Earlier this week I was interested in an artist’s course. I received information about this tantalizing new opportunity in an email and also saw it on Instagram. As I read the copy and saw the Early Bird pricing I was astonished and delighted.

When I clicked through the link to register for the course, I discovered that the EB price was actually missing a zero… so while it was still a good price, I was disappointed. I also thought the artist should know about the significant error so that she could make the correction. I sent a quick email and received a speedy reply. She said to me that the information was already out there through her e-zine and she couldn’t correct it. I was unsatisfied with that response. I wrote her back and said I understood about ezines going out—I certainly have made my share of typos in writing and always want to recall the writings with errors and yet can’t — so I made the suggestion that she re-post on Instagram. I never heard back from her. It made me think less of her—though perhaps that’s too strong. It does make me wonder about her commitment to clarity, honesty, and transparency. It is just one action of a person so perhaps it is more accurate to say that it colored my impression of her and I am warier of working with her.

We all make mistakes.

And there are all different kinds of mistakes—from typos and wordos to pricing and more. And I wonder about the interrelationship between the kind of mistake made and the range of responses that are possible — from doing nothing to nearly obsessing over it.

In my training to become a member of the bikablo global team, we talked about transparency–sharing our mistakes and looking at them as opportunities for learning. It’s a conversation that I have in all my training programs too—as my mistakes are the chance to talk about how we skillfully work with errors, from both practical and social-emotional perspectives.

In my plorking (playing and working) as a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I share the philosophy of the Zentangle method.

There are no mistakes, we work with what we create and make it beautiful.

If you’ve tangled with me, then you know the pencils that we use in the kits that I send out to participants, have no erasers on them. Some folks are uncomfortable with that reality and that perspective.

On a related note, I’m about to start The Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple of years and now feels like the right time. I’m delighted to discover that one of their themes for Volume No. Eighteen  is “no erasing.” It feels like a perfect fit! So as you can imagine, I’m going to make the entire book—16 pages, 32 surfaces (front and back)—a compendium of Zentangle patterns. I know I will make mistakes because I will be working with patterns that are new to me in combination with favorites of mine (and I make my share of mistakes with patterns that are familiar to me too). I’m also going to experiment with a variety of media and no doubt that will provide both joys and challenges.

I will most likely see, on a daily basis, how I am working with the mistakes that I make as a part of my journey. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Where are you making mistakes? What are you learning as you work through and beyond them?

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