A co-worker made a mistake at work last week. It was admittedly a dumb mistake, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big mistake or anything that couldn’t be fixed. No one got hurt, no laws were broken, and really the only thing affected was ego.
I could see he was beating himself up and I realized this was the opportunity to say the things I want to hear when I screw something up. So I told him, “Of all the mistakes you are going to make in life, this is the smallest and least important of them all. Don’t waste energy dwelling on it.”
Yes, I know, I tend to state things in pessimistic terms. I’m a pessimist, no matter how much I try to change it, though I really believe I’m a realist. He will make other mistakes and some will be more significant than these event.
I’m the master of beating myself up over tiny mistakes. If I accidentally cut someone off on the highway I will spend twenty minutes berating myself for not being more observant while driving. Guilt follows me everywhere because I have high expectations for myself, so high that I can’t ever meet them. Though there are ways to learn to forgive yourself.
All this gives background as to why today’s Lifehacker post about keeping a Kudos File resonated with me. Our lives get filled with people finding fault with what we do. I remember a long time ago when my sister was trying out to be a cheerleader, she did this jump thing where her foot bent back to hit her butt. Our neighbor, upon seeing this, said that he didn’t understand why anyone wanted to learn how to kick their own butt when there is a world filled with people waiting to do it for us.
If other people are taking the task to finding out our faults, then it is our job to keep track of all the stuff we are doing right. And honestly, in any given day, we do more things right than wrong.
A kudos file is a great way to remind ourselves of the good things we’ve done, all the things we’ve accomplished when we do eventually mess things up. Additionally, when we are job hunting, it really does help to have a neat orderly list filled with details to create convincing, compelling narratives for cover letters and interviews.