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  • Writer's pictureBrian Reaves

Be Real

Brian performing a trick

I recently performed at a show where I really wanted to get flashy with the finale. I had a good trick to close out the show, but I decided (against my wife's advice, I might add) to try something really hard because I wanted to show off a little. If it worked, it would be spectacular and unforgettable! Unfortunately, I never considered what might happen if it didn't work.

And it didn't.

I failed spectacularly. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. It was a huge disaster, and even though I was able to pull off the ending and close the show, it was with a whimper rather than a bang. And it all rested solely on my shoulders because I made the decision to try something I had no business trying until I'd practiced it much more.

Now, I could have chosen to say, "I didn't fail...I created an opportunity", but that would have been foolish. Everyone saw that I failed somehow. Ignoring it or trying to sugarcoat it would just be soothing my damaged ego.

Instead, I took it for what it was: a mistake and a learning experience. I messed up. Now it was time to see where things went wrong (I hadn't considered everything that could mess up in the trick), what I should have done (practiced it much more), and what I can do in the future to make sure it doesn't happen again (refuse to perform it again until I can do it without thinking about it).

Here's a hard truth to swallow sometimes: you have to be real with yourself to grow.

I have a friend who never admits his mistakes. He never apologizes for saying or doing something that hurts or offends anyone. When a project he attempts fails, he just says it was an opportunity that he created. While I admire people who seek the good in every situation, I pity the people who refuse to allow their egos to be damaged by admitting they messed up.

The problem with having the constant "I never make mistakes...I create opportunities" mindset is that we slowly begin to develop this dangerous mentality. Since we never allow ourselves to admit mistakes, we can start to think we're always right about everything (and I can promise you that you aren't). Soon we feel invincible and start pushing our ideas more and more with less and less input from others.

And even though we're creating this infallible reality for ourselves, the rest of the world sees every mistake for what it is.

I'm not saying beat yourself down for every mistake. I didn't throw away all my tricks just because one failed! But I carefully considered what went wrong and how to stop it in the future. Learn from your mistakes. Be honest with yourself about what you did wrong and what you can do next time to keep it from happening again. And if you need to apologize to someone, do it!

And don't stay there dwelling on the mistake! Keep moving forward! Being honest doesn't include shutting yourself down from every possibility in the future.

It's not fun to admit we were wrong sometimes, but it can help us develop a balanced and healthy self-image that can lead us to great things in the future.

Be real with yourself! But also be your biggest cheerleader if you have to!

Brian's name


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