The tiny space that I need to spare | XLFL Workshop 9 Reflection
Note: I highly suggest you to play this song when reading this post. This just hits home to me as I write.
In 2010, Kathryn Schulz wrote, “Our love of being right is best understood as our fear of being wrong.” It isn’t surprising for me as I remember in the very beginning our ancestor made a mistake that led the whole humanity and even the earth itself fall into the situation we are living right now.
That answers why one of America’s most profound philosopher, John Dewey, once said that the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important. It’s just part of our nature to long for the primal state when everything was just right.
Ten years passed, in 2020 I was faced into a contradictive situation where everyone was encouraged to make mistake: they say this is the safest place to make one, ironically in accordance to fulfill our desire to be important. I began my journey as an XLFL* awardee.
*) XLFL stands for XL Axiata Future Leaders
I can vividly recall how our facilitator encouraged us to make this community as the safest place to make mistake. That’s how people learn to do better, at least as found by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans after their longitudinal research in their design thinking class at Stanford.
Before we ended our very first workshop as an XLFL awardee, one of the alumni shared that this is the beginning of our journey to become important. We might be the VUP (very unimportant person, that’s what he calls) at that time, but the journey at XLFL will one day make us to be the VIP (very important person)
To me that notion was contradictory: how can we become important if we continually make mistake? Isn’t making mistakes something that we fear the most? I was very clueless back then, until I embark my voyage in this 2-year journey of realization.
What did I do wrong?
This program allows us to be directly involved in projects that give social impact: conducting soft-skill upgrading webinars, organizing charity events, helping our peers to upgrade themselves through mentoring, and many more.
As my hands got dirty, I eventually faced times when mistakes are inevitable. I only have two hands and one mind, what do you expect to handle all things at once? This is when the quotation starts to make sense. I can see why our facilitator told us that this is the safest place to make mistakes, because it is just simply unable to avoid!
However, my reptilian brain automatically resisted and led to denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. I was not ready to look bad in front of others. As best as I could, I tried to conceal the failures and put heavy make up to cover my face. Under the name of personal branding I hide.
What have I done right?
Thankfully, I am not a lone fighter here. Together with 149 other awardees from my batch, facilitated by 5 facilitators, supported by hundreds of alumni, I start to figure out the way to learn from mistakes.
Mentoring has been the quickest, if schedule apply, most significant way to overcome day-to-day issues. I can directly contact one of 5 facils to have 30-min conversation, in which they highlight the blind spots I may not be aware of.
Support from fellow awardees is also one thing. Even without realizing, dozens of my XLFL awardees have helped me to define problems that I face, structure the solutions, prioritize, and make action plans. Not only the serious solutions, some of them also have good sense of humor as well.
I am no longer relying on my own strength. I have people around me to help.
What could I have done differently?
Now as time tells I am just one workshop away from graduation, I realize two things:
- Inevitable mistakes teach us no matter how hurtful they are. Yes, it took a while to grief, even Kübler-Ross structured grief into five stages. Know that you are not born to please everyone.
- It is not important to aim to be an important person. I should not expect the spotlight will always shine toward me. I even should not want the spotlight at the first place. Being important is not that important.
If there is a time machine, or a technology which I could use to contact my past self, I would say to myself: it all makes sense.
It makes sense to make mistakes.
It makes sense to be unimportant.
In the end of the day, what matters most is not perfection. It is excellence that can be obtained solely by realizing mistakes and learning from them.
If only I could spare one tiny space for myself in every journey that I face, it is this tiny space of improvement, the safest space where I could make mistakes.
Sadly, I will no longer have this space specially dedicated to me as I will be graduating from XLFL soon. The program is over, the intensive meetings are no longer to be seen. One thing I pray: is that the connection remains.