Messing up. Something every person does daily, yearly, hourly. In small ways, big ways, unnoticeable ways. At work, at home, with those we dislike, and those we love. Happens all the time, to everyone.
Happened to me at work this week. I underestimated how much I relied on those around me to keep track of the musicality, spacing, and formations in a ballet that we are rehearsing. And when it came time for me to help a friend learn my part, I couldn't. The choreography that I knew (well enough) while dancing left me when taken out of context. I illustrated the experience below: First the realization. Then the sinking feeling in the gut as the world starts to crumble (the plunging ego, the burning cheeks). Then the rationalizing. And finally the learning.
Often, (as was the case for me this week) messing up doesn't have immediate outer consequences. I didn't get reprimanded or humiliated or fired. My reputation isn't permanently damaged. And for this I am grateful. Because this kind of mistake is like a freebie. It is a chance to internalize a lesson without too much suffering. It is a chance to grow.
Malcolm X's words apply to mistakes and lessons big and small:
"There is no better [teacher] than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains it's own seed, it's own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time."