In my work with parents and children with ADD, and my work as a coach of youth sports I always emphasized progress rather than perfection. Perhaps the most important element of progress is learning from past mistakes.
Making the same mistakes over and over is not progress at all but a frustrating and discouraging situation. Over time that situation can cause an intelligent and talented person to give up on goals and let visions fade away. For that reason this executive dysfunction may be the most costly of all in terms of how it affects the self-esteem and self-image of someone with ADD. Self-esteem is the most important factor in determining success or failure in every aspect of a person’s live. When you see progress it gives you hope in the future. You start to believe in your ability to eventually accomplish the things in life that bring you happiness and fulfillment.
These strategies may help you learn from your mistakes and make progress in any area of your life.
#65 Be Honest
I’ll start this set of strategies with the most serious one, being honest. It is also the most important one and the one you have to start with in order for any other strategy to work. After all, why would you apply a strategy to a mistake you won’t admit to or a challenge you can’t face. Honesty is the key that opens the door to progress. If you are not honest, don’t bother going to a personal counselor, a life coach or even a therapist. It just won’t do you one bit of good.
I understand the fear that may be behind being honest with yourself. You may pride yourself on being a certain way and project that image to others. Being honest may threaten that image. Too much of our self-image is based on what other people think. When we see ourselves honestly and accurately we start to care less about how others see us.
You may also feel that admitting a mistake will leave you open to judgment, ridicule, or even some form of discrimination. If you don’t trust those around you, I understand. Fears and insecurities often prevent people from seeing others accurately and judging them objectively. However, it is important to your mental health that you find at least one other person you can trust.
I’ll repeat that for emphasis. Find at least one other person you can open up to and share your biggest mistakes and the areas of your life that need the most improvement. They may be a parent, spouse, friend, teacher or coach, but you need to find at least one person you can trust.
#66 Get Feedback
Once you set yourself up to be honest with yourself and at least one other person, it is time to start getting feedback. For years I worked as a technical trainer for large computer companies. After every course, I passed out evaluation forms to each student. The first time I did that it was a bit scary. I didn’t know if I could handle negative feedback, even if it was honest. My fears made me recognize my sensitivity to negative feedback. Eventually I started to see feedback for what it really was: a chance to improve my training materials and classroom skills.
The irony about feedback is that when we need it the most we tend to want it the least. If we are insecure about something, feeling inadequate, or even feeling that we really messed up, we don’t want suggestion or criticism from anyone. In reality, if we don’t get some honest feedback we may feel the same way after our next attempt and our next one and so on. The sooner we can identify our mistakes and plan out a better approach the sooner those feelings of insecurity and inadequacy will disappear. It’s always the rooky that doesn’t want suggestions. The seasoned professional lives by them. That’s what got them there.
If something doesn’t go well, learn to not resist feedback. You may have to bite your pride at first, but soon you will see the value in it. Once you see that, you will not only be open to feedback, you will seek it out. Then you will see yourself overcoming mistakes and making rapid improvements.