When I was training to be a coach I assisted for a class at my coaching school. On the first day of an endless session where the students practiced and the assistants sat quietly at the back of the room, I got bored. I’d brought a book and without thinking, I asked one of the leaders if I could read during the practice session. Had I thought about it I would have realized that this absolutely wasn’t done – no assistant had ever sat and read during any of the classes I’d attended.
As the leader very kindly explained to me why I couldn’t read during the session, my face burned with shame. For the next two days of class I felt like a fool. I was sure that she’d told the other instructor about my ridiculous question, and I imagined that some of their instructions over the next couple of days were directed at me, just in case I had any other brainless ideas.
I was so embarrassed I almost didn’t tell anyone, but finally I confessed to my coach, Michael.
What was Michael’s response?
“So what?” he said. “You’re human.”
And, just like that my embarrassment and shame evaporated. I realized that although I thought my question was disastrously stupid, the leader probably hadn’t given it much thought. And even if she had, even if she paused and thought, “Here’s a dumb one,” what did it really matter? It’s true she was the class leader but, as Michael would say, so what? We were both there for the same purpose – to help train coaches.
Now when I goof up it leaves a different residue. Sure, I’m still embarrassed, and I still get that flash of “What will they think?” panic. But it quickly fades as I reconnect with the fact my blunder is merely a moment’s lapse of judgment – nothing more. It’s not the first mistake I’ve made and it won’t be the last.
And that’s ok, because I’m human and that’s just part of the package.
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