How many times have you told yourself – “I’d love to do that but ….” when deep down what you really mean is “I’m scared of making a mistake, and being ridiculed if I try …”
I ask this question because when I tell people I am a Creative Thinking Coach and an Artist, the first words that come out of their mouths nine times out of ten are …”I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I’m not creative or I can’t even draw a straight line”. But I know what they actually mean is “I’m scared of taking a risk, I’m scared of making a mistake, I’m scared of being embarrassed…”
This is not something to be judged because we all do it.
I’m not scared of taking a risk with creativity but I do have my own fears.
I remember back in 2006 when I took my ‘adult gap year’ in my 40’s I had a list I was working my way through – it was “My list of terrifying things to do on my gap year.”
The list included:
- Tandem skydiving
- White Water rafting
- Handling a snake
- Travelling the world solo
- Tandem hang gliding
- Abseiling off the Tyne Bridge (in my home town)
But at the very top of the list was the most terrifying thing of all “Solo Karaoke” – yes I was more scared of getting up on stage and singing by myself under a spotlight than strapping myself to a stranger and allowing him to throw me out of a plane. I can hear you laughing now! Yes it seems ridiculous, but the actual fear was not the singing but the chance that I would make a terrible job of it, make an awful mistake and be ridiculed.
So I set off on my travels and found myself in Thailand with a group of women travelling solo too. One evening we were booked on a dinner cruise down a scenic river and you guessed it the only entertainment was Karaoke. I literally couldn’t run away from the mic unless I jumped off the boat and swam to the river bank. So after a few drinks, I scanned the songsheet and chose my first ever Karaoke song. “Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry. Apparently, it was a big hit in 1976 haha! And so I went up onto the stage, had to get passed my nerves and sing my song. After the initial nerves I actually began to love it – and in that one moment, I realised how paralysing my fear of mistakes had held me back in many areas of my life, and how easy it had been to break free of this one.
But why do we fear making mistakes so much?
I believe it is something we developed at school. School taught us that there was only one right answer to a question. The authority figure (the teacher) would judge us, and we were ridiculed by our peers if our marks were low. No one wanted to be seen as the dummy in the class, no one wanted to be laughed at. As a teenager, we spent most of our time trying to fit in and not stand out – standing out was unsafe.
Then without realising it we carried that fear of mistakes and taking risk into our work lives, and our adult lives and it became so ingrained we didn’t even notice anymore.
If you have a fear of making a mistake it will be holding you back in your life.
Have you ever noticed that the most successful people in the world are those who seem to have no fear of taking a chance? They take risks that us mere mortals wouldn’t dare – specifically I am thinking about Richard Branson who has lost his fortune several times over the years to bounce back even more successful. But why is that? Because he has developed a creative mindset, he has learned the art of risk taking and understands the benefits of making mistakes.
So how do you learn the art of taking risks and reduced fear of making mistakes?
The answer is creativity. Creativity teaches you to try new things, to take risks, to be bold and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Making mistakes is a big part of the creative process; you learn from them, adapt and try again. This skill is essential in business too – the most successful businesses are those who are prepared to take a calculated risk, to try something new, to innovate – and those who play safe are left behind.
Learning the benefit of making mistakes is a key part of my Creative Thinking Coaching – from learning the art of doodling to throwing paint at a canvas along with targetted coaching can teach you not just how to take chances on your canvas but in your life.
Whether it is deciding to join that salsa class you’ve always wanted to try, going for a new role at work, asking someone out on a date you really like or yes singing Karaoke embracing the creative process will help give you the confidence to take a chance in all areas of your lives.
So why not learn how to wake up your creative mindset, learn how to take chances while having fun?
Here are 5 ideas that can start you off on developing your creative mindset.
- Take a single colour pen and a sheet of paper and spend 10 minutes doodling – for no reason, without judgement.
- Allow yourself time to daydream, watch the clouds and see what shapes you see, what can you imagine.
- Write a story using only 6 words.
- Print off a photo or image and spend 10 minutes with a pencil adjusting it, adding to it or modifying it.
- Start making a list of things that interest you or start your own Pinterest page.
Or ….. you could strap yourself to a stranger and allow them to throw you out of a plane. I know which ones are less scary.
Have a creative day!
PS If you want to learn how let go of the fear of making mistakes in any area of your life, do book a FREE Discovery Session with me and we can work out how I can help you live a bigger life too.