by Megan McDonough

It’s embarrassing to misspell the names of two valued faculty. I made that mistake last week in an e-mail about the mindfulness and strengths course that Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec and Dr. Donna Mayerson will be teaching. Out of respect and care, I wanted to own and correct the error.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. And it doesn’t feel good to mess up. This is exactly why cultivating mindfulness and then engaging our strengths is so critical in a coaching practice (and in life). If we are to grow and learn, mistakes are welcomed guests.

As I reflected on the spelling error, I was mindful of the feelings that arose (embarrassment and regret), the thoughts that came up (what will Donna and Ryan think?), and the physical sensations present (ball in the pit of my stomach). If it was left there, the situation would not be resolved, so my next step was to engage my strengths of creativity and bravery. I asked myself, “What can be done?” and “What steps can I take to move this in a better direction?”

The result is this blog post.

Mistakes can be woven into life when mindfulness is practiced and strengths are engaged. This is what Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec and Dr. Donna Mayerson (notice the correct spelling!!) will be teaching in the course.

Ellen Langer’s research team asked four randomly selected groups to present in front of a judging audience. The first group was told to not make a mistake (talk about stress!). The second was told that mistakes are fine; it’s okay to mess up. The third group was told to take their mistakes and weave it into the presentations—make use of the error. There was also a control group.

The third group—the one that incorporated their mistakes—felt most confident and competent, and were perceived by others that same way.

I feel better for addressing the error head on, and mindfully weaving it into this post. May you always know that your mistakes can be used as creative fodder to reorient yourself towards your ideal.

Learn more from Megan McDonough in The Certificate in Positive Psychology.


Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.

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