Earlier this week I took part in a speaking competition.

I knew my lines. I knew where to stand and how to move. I was calm. The topic was original. Even funny.

The audience laughed. I laughed.

The timekeeper showed me the green card. I’d reached the minimum time marker.

At this point, instead of building up to my most compelling argument – which had been passionately prepared – and for which there was loads of time – I panicked. I jumped straight to the conclusion. Fluffed it. Stumbled valiantly to the end. Scuttled back to my seat. Repeated the two missing paragraphs over and over again, in the inexplicable hope that the judges would find them in my head and magically tag them on to the end of my speech.

I won’t labour the narrative that left me huddled in the corner. Let’s just say it inspired the consumption of half a leftover chocolate cake that I stole out the freezer and ate with a knife and fork. Surprisingly easily. Convinced myself it tasted like chocolate-cake-ice-cream. If there is such a thing. Maybe I’ll invent it.

Look, like you I know beating myself up is useless. I should just save myself the trouble, right?

So why do we do it?

  1. Because our inner critic believes it’s protecting us
  2. It thinks this is the best way to motivate us

Actually, I think it’s about ego. I thought I was better than that and it hurts.

So with the wisdom of tiny buddha to lure me away from the freezer, here are 4 questions we can ask ourselves the next time we miss the mark.

  1. How can I react differently? For example, can I accept it as a learning?
  2. How can I flip that negative statement? Instead of saying I’m a terrible speaker, can I say “Professional speaker? No big deal.”
  3. How can I plan for these roadblocks? Try and anticipate speed bumps en route.
  4. Who can teach me to do a headstand? It’ll be difficult to feel and see things the same way if I’m upside down.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

~ Samuel Beckett

Have you ever tried? Ever failed? Tried again?

I’d love to know.