Monday, April 27, 2015

Listen Very Carefully

If we are to rise above our fear and pain we must have the energy for it. Trying to deny our mistakes and keep them hidden from others is a waste of that precious energy.

As we’ve already observed, we are perfectly imperfect. Mistakes are inevitable, but they can be real assets if we are willing to learn from them. Acknowledging them freely is the first step in turning our perils into pearls.

What can we learn from mistakes if we’re willing to acknowledge them? Of course the most obvious payoff is that they teach us what doesn’t work. Being wrong will often alert us to another perspective or point of view. Mistakes also force us to develop new behaviors and coping styles—expanding our repertoire. 

Tonight Show host Johnny Carson was a master at deliberately “making mistakes” in his nightly monologue as a way of exercising his adlibbing skills. Learning what doesn’t work, seeing additional perspectives, or developing new coping skills are all priceless assets when we are going through inevitable changes in our lives. And when it comes to expanding repertoires and gaining new perspectives, we have no
greater resource than humor.

Be like Johnny Carson. Make mistakes on purpose.

Ask dumb questions. Wear mismatched socks. Push the elevator button after it’s already lit.

I call this deliberate foolishness. Acting in this way provides many benefits:

1. You will get used to feeling foolish. It’s an exhilarating feeling.

2. You will enjoy knowing that others will misjudge you and feel a false sense of superiority over you.

3. Being foolish is a good stress reliever.

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