Be Honest Even When You F___ Up!
It is no small secret that I am a huge Billy Joel fan. I have been listening to his music since I was a little kid so much so that sometimes it feels like he has written the soundtrack to my life. Last year I wrote about an incident in which he brought a fan up onstage to accompany him. It was one of those moments that reaffirmed for me why I love being a fan of his. Apparently it is time for him to inspire another post, and believe me he does not disappoint. Last month he was putting on a concert in Toronto. He had just come out to kick off his encore act by performing “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, when something awesome happened…
He made a mistake:
(Be forewarned Billy Joel says the “F” word a few times in this clip.)
Now here is why this is awesome, he doesn’t try to hide the mistake, he owns it instead. Nobody in that stadium went away thinking that Billy Joel doesn’t care about his fans, or that he “phones in” his performance. He was honest and authentic about his mistake. He corrected it and everybody quickly moved on. Most importantly the experience was good for everyone. In fact it was probably better for them.
It is a simple lesson we can teach our kids. Make a mistake, own it, fix it, and carry on. So much time is wasted when we have to do the detective work for a mistake someone has made, and so much time is wasted when we try to hide our mistakes. It is difficult to learn from a mistake when you are trying to hide it, and if you are successful the only thing you really learn is how to hide it, not how to improve. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine how the world might be different if he had spent time trying to hide his mistakes rather than learning from them and continuing.
To teach this though it has to be modeled, it can’t be theoretical, because making a mistake is scary. If our kids see us make a mistake then own it and move past it; the mistakes they make become less scary and the light at the end of their tunnel is more clear. This can be scary for us parents as well because we have to expose our flaws to our kids. It is important, however, because if our children get into the habit of learning from their mistakes early they are set up to be so much more successful in the future.
…and isn’t that our goal as parents?