By Nataly Kogan

How messing up made my keynote better

Last week, I was in Tucson, Arizona, to give a keynote to 300 educators.

I was so excited to do this keynote and activate these amazing humans, who give so much to others every day, to make their well-being and emotional fitness their #1 priority!

As an extra little surprise, I created small cards for everyone in the audience.

The front of each card had the sentence I would ask them to complete: “I’m an Awesome Human because…”

The other side had my original art, from my Awesome Human series.

Half an hour before I was to go on stage, one of the organizers brought over the box with these Awesome Human cards (I'd sent them directly to the venue).

Excitedly, we opened the package…

…and then my jaw dropped to the floor.

Actually, everyone’s jaw dropped to the floor, including my husband's and my daughter's -- they were there with me.

The front side of the cards looked just as I’d designed it, but the back, instead of having my original art, featured... wait for it...

.... a recipe for an Italian pasta dish as part of an ad for a company called Eataly.

I couldn’t believe it!

I’d proofed the cards and had the same exact ones delivered to my house, and everything looked great. How could the printing company make such a mistake?!

My first instinct was to scarp the whole idea and just forget about the cards. I was so disappointed.

But then, with everyone around our table looking at me for a decision, I had this awesome moment of clarity:

I could either practice what I teach and embrace my humanity — aka I can’t do all things perfectly or control things beyond my control — or I could shy away from it.

“Let’s hand out the cards anyway!” I said, “and maybe this pasta recipe will come in handy for some busy teachers!”

A few minutes later, I was on stage kicking off my keynote. It went so great and the entire time, I felt like I was in this giant hug with everyone in the audience! 

Then, it came time to fill out the cards.

Instead of rushing through the part about why there was a pasta recipe on the back, I decided that this was a great opportunity to help my audience handle mistakes with less stress.

So I told them what had happened.

And then I asked: “Do you care that the back of the card is not what I had intended? Do you care that this is a mess up?”

“No!!!” people shouted out.

“Exactly!” I said. “So the next time you make a mistake, I want you to remember this moment and realize that NO ONE GIVES A SH*T WHEN YOU MESS UP!”

There were many laughs and applause during my keynote, but none louder than in this moment.

I felt like every single person in that giant ballroom dropped the weight of worry and stress about not being perfect, even if just for that moment.

Oh, and then everyone filled out their Awesome Human cards and we all got up on the stage to an amazing photo together!

So the next time you make a mistake, I hope you realize that absolutely no one cares about it as much as you do (or at all) — and that the best thing you can do is EMBRACE YOUR HUMANNESS:

 - acknowledge the mistake

 - acknowledge how you feel 

 - recognize that you’re a human being and human beings make mistakes (yes, every single one of us)

 - talk back to your brain when it tells you that this is the worst thing in the world (it never is)

 - be open about it and how you feel with people around you

No one wants your perfect. Everyone wants your human!

Next up: How to be (a little more) OK when life isn't OK

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