It’s Okay to Do It Wrong

September 28, 2009

I got an email a few months back from a woman on my ezine list who shared a great saying that she loves – “If it’s worth doing, it’s even worth doing wrong.” I laughed out loud when I got it and have been thinking about it ever since. What a great message. A little different than the idea many of us have been told, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” While I actually agree with both of these statements, being okay with doing things “wrong” is something that would make a difference in most of our lives in a profound way.

Many of us, myself included, get so obsessed with doing things “right,” or at the very least not doing anything that could be perceived as “wrong,” we organize much of what we say and do to avoid ever being “wrong.” While this makes sense and is quite normal, think of how much of our power we give away to our fear of doing something wrong or looking “bad” in the eyes of “them” (whomever “they” may be).

There are so many things I have not said or done in my life, personally and professionally, because I was worried I might do it “wrong.” Even right now in my life as I consider my next book idea, think about some new stuff I want to try in my business, and even as I interact with my wife and my girls, my fear of being or doing something “wrong” shows up all the time.

What if we were able to make peace with this and let go of our attachment to always doing things “right.” The concept of “right vs. wrong” is one that creates a great deal of stress in our lives and relationships to begin with. But, think of the freedom, peace, and power that would be available to us if we didn’t avoid being wrong so much.

We’ve all done lots of things “wrong” in our life and in the process of our mistakes and failures, we’ve learned so many important lessons and been able to gain skill, awareness, and insight necessary to take us to the next level of development.

Our baby girl, Annarose, who is now 13 months old is teaching us a wonderful lesson about this as she learns to walk. She has taken some steps, but is not quite “walking” yet. When she does take some steps and falls down, she is fine, doesn’t seem bothered by it, and simply keeps going. She clearly isn’t worried that she is doing something “wrong.” Imagine if you and I had to learn how to walk now in our lives. We’d probably make a few attempts, but after falling down and feeling embarrassed a couple of times, we’d quit, give up, and decide, “You know what, maybe I’m just not cut out for this walking thing after all.”

We’ve all had this experience in our lives, many times (in addition to learning how to walk, assuming we are fortunate enough to have that ability). Thank goodness we have some capacity to do things wrong and be okay with it. Failing doesn’t make us a failure. Making mistakes doesn’t mean we’re a mistake. If we could make peace with failure, mistakes, and outright doing and saying things “wrong,” we’d be empowered to take more risks, speak our truth, and go for what we truly want in life with a real sense of passion and joy, and a lot less fear and anxiety.

This is all much easier said than done for me and most people I know. Here are three specific things we can do to expand and enhance our capacity to do things “wrong” in a conscious and healthy way:

– Take inventory. Look in your life, your relationships, and your work right now and see where you’re holding yourself back because you’re worried about doing or saying something “wrong.” Make an honest assessment of where your fear of doing it “wrong” is getting in your way.

– Admit your real fear. What is it that you are really scared of? What are you worried that you will lose if you do or say something that might be considered “wrong?” See if you can get underneath the superficial fears and dig down into the real stuff. The more willing you are to be honest and vulnerable, the more likely you are to break free (with this and anything else in life).

– Seek out support and accountability. Reach out to some of the people in your life who you trust and are close to – ask them to support you and hold you accountable to go for it. We all need people around us to have our back and kick is the behind when necessary – with love, honesty, and kindness. Let people know where you’re stuck, what you are scared of, what your ultimate goal or intention is (in regards to one or more of these places where you’re worried about doing something “wrong”). Having this support and accountability is what we all need to push past our limits and step outside of our comfort zones.

When we’re willing to be honest about where we get stuck, express our real fears and feelings, and get the support we need from those around us – we absolutely can expand our capacity for doing things “wrong,” which in turn will give us the freedom and confidence to do, say, and go for the things that matter most to us in life! Doing this is the foundation for living a life of authenticity, appreciation, and, fulfillment.

Remember to be kind to yourself in this process, and also to ask yourself the important and inspiring question that Robert H. Schuller made famous, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Go for it! And, even if you end up doing it “wrong,” it’s okay.

Where is your fear of being or doing something “wrong” holding you back in your life? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.

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  1. The need to do everything “right” all the time is ultimate perfectionism and it manifests confusion and fear. If you react to those emotions, breed frustration and overwhelm. This is a vicious cycle because these emotions feed off of each other, creating a circular habit.

    I think the accountability partner is the key to breaking this cycle. having someone you can share your experiences with and get honest feedback will help you end your need to do it right, and therefore, get it done!

  2. Mike-

    This was great medicine. I am a first-year teacher, so I am expert at doing things wrong. Now I will appreciate the fact that I did it in the first place!


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