frustratedI am 56 years old and still worry about “looking bad.” I would have put a picture of myself for this post, except (of course) I didn’t want to look like an idiot in the picture either.

The thought came to me during an embarrassing round of golf last weekend. Since then, I’ve noticed how my mind chatters and punishes me, whether a small or big deal. Here are my top five recurring ways to look like an idiot.

  1. Tripping up or down a step (Low heels in my old age help).
  2. Forgetting someone’s name (and my memory in general).
  3. Somehow deleting a client meeting from Outlook (I’m convinced it disappeared).
  4. Typos on final materials (I announce the probability now).
  5. Shanking a ball at the first tee of a major golf course (with a crowd watching, of course).

And, there are more ways I won’t share.

It’s one thing to make these errors. But, why do I torture myself? Did I hurt anyone? No, I didn’t. I could, of course, in golf (knock on wood). But, most of the ways I feel like an idiot aren’t really harmful. They are embarrassing and often require extra work. Sometimes people care. Or sometimes some people care. But, mostly people don’t even care about my errors.

Why do I torture myself? My quick answer is years of conditioning. I grew up in a family, in schools, and at companies with bosses that somehow always made perfection seem the goal and possible. I was always interested in achieving goals and meeting expectations.

I wonder what would happen if I put the same intensity of emotion into the achievements as I have with the mistakes.

I’m not proposing that we stop caring about making mistakes, small or big. It’s the self-torture part that seems to be most useless. Do you agree?