Making Mistakes

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. Neil Gaiman

New year’s resolutions. Goal setting. Word of the year. These aspirational, intention setting practices abound at this time of year as people look ahead at the clean slate a new calendar provides. I’ve engaged in and benefited from some of these practices, but the calendar doesn’t stay a clean slate for long. Life happens with most of us having mixed results at reaching the high bar we set for ourselves just a week or two earlier.

I love how Neil Gaiman flips all this on its head. Don’t go for perfect - make mistakes. On purpose. Because it’s in making mistakes that we learn, grow, create, and challenge ourselves. Knowing there will be setbacks and failures on the way to achieving those resolutions and goals that you set for yourself can actually help keep you from getting derailed.

It doesn’t always have to be major life changes. Over the last few months, we had house renovations done because of unplanned plumbing issues (the worst kind). Fortunately, we have a guest bedroom and bathroom that we could live in for the month that the work was being done so we were only minorly inconvenienced. But that also planted the seed of an idea.

We live and run the business out of our house and have been wanting a better space for collaborative meetings, flop ball play, and creative work. Having chart paper and sticky notes hanging on the dining room walls works up to a point - usually until around dinner time. After the contractors finished their work and we were moving back into our master bedroom I asked, “why do we need so much room to sleep?” Much to other people’s confusion, we made the switch and turned our beautiful master suite into our conference room.

It took us a bunch of work over the holiday break and to be honest I had several moments during the process of wondering if we had made a “mistake.” It took a lot of time (purging, painting, moving, organizing) that we could have been investing in other projects. Would it really make a positive impact on how we work collaboratively? Will it be a waste of time and money? Who does this? These doubts (among others) popped into my head as we moved forward with the plan.

But then I would shift my mindset and realize that we’re trying something new, we’ll learn something from the experience, we can always switch it back, and if nothing else a few rooms got a fresh coat of paint. In Gaiman’s terms, we changed our world! It also gave us an opportunity to take a break from working in the business to work together on a project where mistakes didn’t matter as much. And when we were done, we could see the results. We transformed a space we’ve lived in for years into something totally new. So it might be a mistake, but for now it’s exciting and new.

So go forth and make mistakes. Or as we at Flow Circus like to say - #flopon