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Aim for Success

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Aim for Success

Tips for the recovering perfectionist.
Denise  Marek
Denise Marek More by this author
Apr 28, 2009 at 10:00 AM

IS THE FEAR OF MAKING A MISTAKE preventing you from taking action? If so, the way to move beyond this and gain the courage to follow through on your plan is to aim for success, not perfection. As a recovering perfectionist, I understand that if you have similar tendencies (as many worriers do), you most likely equate success with the absence of any error. After all, if you don’t get everything correct, it means you’ve failed, right? Wrong. A mistake is not a failure; it’s simply the outcome of an action. It may not be what you were hoping for, but that’s okay.

The key to success isn’t to achieve a perfect result each and every time you act. The important thing is learning from what happens—whether good, bad, or indifferent—and correcting your actions until you get what you were looking for.

I discovered the value of learning from my mistakes early in my career. When I first decided to become a professional speaker, I applied to work as a seminar leader for an international company based in Colorado. Four weeks after submitting my résumé and a short demonstration video, I was hired! After profusely thanking the woman who made the decision, I asked her, “Why did you choose me out of the hundreds of applicants?” She replied, “You speak with passion. I can teach people to become better speakers, but I can’t teach them how to speak with passion.”

I liked that answer. I was so taken with it that I chose to ignore the fact that most other trainers I met weren’t keen on delivering the topic I’d been assigned to teach—how to deal with difficult people. Doesn’t that sound like a great subject? Teaching others to communicate with the challenging individuals in their lives sounded like fun to me. Why, then, didn’t the other speakers want to give this seminar? I discovered the answer rather quickly after I began delivering the program. You see, half of the people who attended the seminar did so because they wanted to learn what I had to teach. The other half were the difficult ones and had been sent by their employers to get “straightened out.”

On the first day of my new job, I was very excited to present to the 250 people who’d paid to hear me speak in the Quebec auditorium where I’d been booked. I began the seminar at 9:00 A.M., and by 9:15, it was painfully clear who the problematic folks were! They were easy to spot, since they were wearing scathing expressions on their faces that could only mean one thing—I dare you to teach me something!

What about the other half? Surely, I could find support among the other 125 attendees, right? Unfortunately, most of the audience spoke English as their second language. Imagine standing in front of a packed auditorium and only getting looks of contempt or confusion!

This was a full-day seminar, and I still had six-and-three-quarters more hours to speak to this group. I thought, I’m going to die a slow and painful death onstage today. Then I remembered what my boss had said: “You speak with passion.” And I realized: I’m going to connect with this audience by speaking with passion. So that’s exactly what I set out to do.

When I needed to talk to the audience, I jumped down from the stage to be there with them, on their level. When it was time to change an image on the overhead projector, I leapt back up. During one of my jumps onto the stage, however, my shoe fell off. I bent over sideways to pick it up, which was a big mistake. As I twisted and leaned over, three of the top buttons on the front of my silk skirt popped off! There I was, standing onstage with a shoe in one hand, my skirt gapping open at the front, and thinking, This is a little more passion than I anticipated.

Each of us makes mistakes from time to time. When you do, rather than beating yourself up over it, learn from it. Ask yourself, What did I discover from this experience, and what will I do differently next time? Life is a process of acquiring knowledge. When you learn from your errors, you grow. For that reason, make it your mission to mess up even more.

What kind of crazy suggestion is that? Why on earth would I suggest such a thing? If you’re making mistakes, you’re taking actions and risks. The more you’re taking chances, the more you’ll grow and the greater opportunity you’ll have to live a joy-filled and worry-free life. Please understand that I’m not advising you to be reckless or flub things up on purpose. I’m simply saying that you shouldn’t allow the possibility of a misstep to stop you from taking action; and that you aim for success, not perfection.

Apply this positive approach to making mistakes in your life and amazing things will happen. The fear of doing something wrong will begin to lessen, your ability to recover from setbacks will be enhanced, and your inner peace and confidence will grow. When implementing your action plan, aim for success by doing your best to reach a specific goal. If you get the outcome you were hoping for, great! If you don’t, pat yourself on the back for doing as well as you could, learn what you can from the experience, and adjust your actions until you get the result you’re looking for. Despite my many, many blunders, this approach keeps me moving forward. It’s the reason I’m still speaking today—but never in a button-front skirt!

About Author
Denise  Marek
Denise Marek is known as “The Worry Management Expert.” An international speaker and television personality, she has helped thousands of women transform their feelings of worry into feelings of inner peace. In June 2001, Denise earned the coveted Toa Continue reading