“You know those moments when you just really fuck up?” she says.
I think to myself in a short but powerful barrage of examples from my own memory bank.
“Absolutely”, I reply.
“I had one of those the other day. Right there in front of everyone. Totally botched it.” She went on. “It felt great”.
I laughed. “Good for you!”
“There is something powerful about screwing up in front of other people. It gives me humility. It reminds me I’m just human and I need to be humble.”
Beautiful. This grace-filled, faith-filled woman has shared her wisdom with me so many times and I am humbled at what I’ve received. A long-term client of mine, a bit older than I, and I am often so taken by her wisdom. She shares it so freely, so openly. I stand in awe.
And, it brings up an excellent point.
Most of us work really hard to “get it right”, believing somewhere inside of us there is a right way. As a culture, we have all sorts of telltale signs of those who are winning in life. There is a saying that is honestly starting to bother me, as I see it as another way of imposing an unspoken set of expectations on ourselves and on others. This “winning” seems often to be based on one’s ability to travel to wonderful places, drive expensive vehicles, own big homes in the right neighborhoods, etc. It seems to me to be about a lot of stuff and things captured in glorious pictures and shared on social media that may or may not make one a “winner at life”. But, that’s another entire story.
This earlier exchange opens the two of us up into a conversation about the power of messing up, getting it totally wrong, and doing so in front of others. I think we can all agree that nothing is embarrassing if there is no one else around to see it. We can mess up, drop stuff, make the wrong choice at the wrong time, misdirect the ship of life, and as long as we do it without anyone else knowing, we’re cool. Just clean it up and move on. Brené Brown, a well-known author, talks at length about the necessity of owning our imperfect selves and bringing those to the world. Imperfections are real. Flaws are normal. Some of us assume if someone is too perfect, they may be working their ass off to hide something ugly. Many of us learned to love ourselves and our lives through hardship, challenges, and struggles. Most of these were not pretty, and certainly not perfect. When we hide our imperfections, we hide the truth of our Spirit, we’re hiding our uniqueness and our gifts.
During this particular conversation she and I were sharing, while laughing hardily at most of these, examples of when we had majorly messed up in front of someone else, or multiple others. Hers was a more recent escapade which is what brought the subject up in the first place. She was leading a charge, totally went the wrong direction and took the army with her…into chaos. Until it was directly pointed out to her, in front of everyone, she didn’t even realize what she was doing. There is a humbling moment for you! Being told in front of your entire staff that you’re taking them all down the road of doom. Your welcome! Oh, my goodness. Her faith stood strong inside of her. She humbly apologized for her mistake and redirected the forces in a more constructive direction. “I just didn’t want to listen. It was totally on me! I thought I knew, so I didn’t have to hear anyone else. What a dip.”
I was so curious about what happened afterward, I had to ask what happened next.
“A woman from my group walked up to me the next day and said thank you. She said after all the years I’ve been at this, if I can screw up and survive it, she’s not so afraid anymore.”
My eyes instantly filled with tears. That was the most beautifully powerful thing I think I’ve ever heard. The fact that my client was willing to handle her screw up in front of everyone, without losing her sense of herself, gave this other woman the courage to step out of her fear of the same.
Women, we are so powerful!!!
Who would think that by just being our simple, less than perfect selves, we can inspire others to be ok with who they are too? By trying and failing, we inspire others to try and not beat themselves to death if they fail. For all the inspiration we take from those who are killing it in their businesses, careers, families, money, style, fame of all kinds, that what frees us is to watch someone else just be normal. A-friggen-men.
It is our love of one another without expectations of perfection that is true love. It is our sincere encouragement when people haven’t “nailed it” every time that helps them back onto their feet to try again. It is us honoring the work, the focus, the attention and the efforts of us as we find our way to where we’re headed that makes the journey bearable.
We can do so much by doing so little.
Greatness is admirable, without question. But humility, sharing our less than amazing stories with one another, giving everyone the gift of “yeah, me too” when we’re not feeling so great about where we’re at, is, my friends, what we at our house call PFM (Pure Fucking Magic).
Our ability to lift one another up is not confined by making the climb look easy and flawless. It’s also not about making too much of every little step we take, either. But there is true grace in sharing honestly, the work, effort, focus, the tried and try again moments that make up our life.
Keep this one in your back pocket. There will always be a next time to feel like you have to have it all together and wrapped in a bow. Remember: in every situation, there is probably someone wishing her or his best will be enough. That they haven’t been and are not the only ones struggling to keep the faith. That by boofing it once in a while, we not only honor our humanness, we allow others to honor theirs as well.
That my dears, is liberation.
Blessings Galore, Anne