Why Is It So Important To Fuck Up?

Illustration by: Naomi Wilkinson

“You made a mistake and you sent it to the client,” told me my manager once in the early days of my career.

“Okay, can you please show me what to do so I don’t repeat this mistake next time?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “you need to figure this out by yourself. The client is very upset and will probably fire us because of what you did.”

“I’m very sorry to hear that,” I replied, “nevertheless, can you please show me what to do so I am able learn from this?”

Eventually, she didn’t explained herself and I needed to figure out all by myself what was the mistake and why did it happen. This story is not a good one. Mostly when people think about critique or getting a feedback, they imagine it to be subtle, fair and constructive. This conversation I had a few years ago, was not a good example of how to learn from our professional mistakes and was not constructive at all. I remember going home after that evening and feeling very bad and ashamed, I felt unvalued by my own manager. The one I should impress and the one who should lead my professional way (to a certain extent). I remember saying to myself: “I will not fuck up again, I can not take this risk at all”.

Fast forward to nowadays, fucking up is such an important thing to do!

When we are afraid of making mistakes, not taking risks, undermining our own value and what we have to offer — that’s when we start to freeze. The most important thing I learned from the past years is how important it is to make mistakes, to take up on risks and sometimes lose in the process. You should fail. Yes, you are reading correctly, I want to encourage you to do professional mistakes. The more, the better. I’m telling you so that you won’t freeze. I want to suggest that you think freely and take action without fear.

Fear of doing mistakes, of fucking up, of losing a client or getting fired will not allow you to grow and to fulfil your true potential. Once you fuck up, the most important thing to do after a fuck up, is to smile to yourself and ask two questions:

“What is the next step?”
“What can I learn from it?”

We can learn from every mistake we do, and despite making mistakes we must stay on our course of action and not give up, to not give up. The more I live on this planet, the more I understand that when we show compassion to ourselves, when we are being kind to ourselves and allowing ourselves to grow, even while we go through terrible experiences, professionally and personally — then the magic happens!

What I actually learned from allowing myself to make mistakes

  • I became a calmer person, both in my personal and professional life. Suddenly a lot of pressure disappeared.
  • I became more confident, knowing that even if I fail that does not reflect on my skills or my true self.
  • I gained more authority with my peers, colleagues and clients. Not afraid of making mistakes allows me to grow professionally grow. This results in people around me starting to appreciate me and my opinions more.
  • Letting myself fail allowed me take more risks, which resulted in my personal and professional development.

It made me know myself so much better and appreciate my value no matter what happens.

To wrap it up

Make mistakes! They will make you grow stronger and become much more professional. Freezing is not an option. Being perfect, is not an option. Allow yourself to grow, trust in yourself, and you will gain more professional skills and have inner happiness. If you don’t know the fuckup community yet, you’d be surprised by how many fuckup stories there are. Go ahead and listen to a few, they will surely inspire you.