Your best teacher

I’ve heard it said that your best teacher is your last mistake.  

In that scenario, it would be hard to discern among all my best teachers.  I’m constantly making pretty hefty mistakes. From things as small as misspelled words on the blog, to investing large amounts of money into resources that didn’t work out the way I expected them to, my list of recent mistakes is plentiful.

Yesterday I had the chance to connect with a new friend, just because. 

I’m typically very guarded with my time during the week as both a full-time founder and full-time mama, so meeting up with new folks during the week isn’t typically on my agenda.  That said, when another trusted founder friend makes the intro encouraging me to meet, I do my best to trust that.

I spent an hour with Mary yesterday, and it was lovely. 

As we each shared our start-up stories, one of the things that came to the top of my mind was the reminder that in the journey of entrepreneurship, one of the most valuable beliefs I’ve clung to since the beginning, is something my coach Michelle taught me, maybe even before HeartStories was incorporated.

It’s the idea of Shoshin.  

Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

As an entrepreneur, an executive leader, a mother, a wife, a friend, or simply a strong woman who cares about contributing to the world, maintaining an attitude of openness and eagerness when learning something new will change the way you experience everything.

Your last mistake can’t be your best teacher if you’re busy judging it. 

If you are expecting mistakes, and you’re open to learning the lessons they provide, they are invaluable teachers.  I’ve never forgotten the example Michelle used with me over and over in the beginning, it has stuck with me as a clear visual in my mind over all the years.  Just like a baby who is first learning to walk, isn’t judging themselves by how far they go, or how beautiful their first stride.

Merely pulling themselves up on the edge couch is an exciting victory. 

They can see so much more of the world now.  They instinctively realize they have so much further to go, but even if they fall back down at first, it’s not disappointing to find that they’re not already walking.  No, it’s thrilling and encouraging.  The first steps while holding on to the edge of the seat, or while holding a parent’s hand, don’t bring frustration, they bring joy.

Again, no judgment.  

Especially that first unhindered step toward the middle of the room, it’s like their first taste of freedom.  Sometimes the shriek of excitement itself is what causes them to fall flat on their face.  But do they get frustrated and mad, laying on the floor crying, blaming their stupidity for that shriek that caused the fall?  No chance!  They’re up and crawling like a rocket back for the edge of the couch.  By all means, they want to do that again, only this time without the shriek.  They want to learn to walk freely, which they intrinsically understand and do not judge.

This is the natural process. 

Somewhere in the first ten years of life, we tend to lose that freedom.  We lose the joy of “beginner’s mind”.  We lose touch with the truth, that our mistakes are our greatest teachers, and we should welcome them in.

What was your last mistake? 

Take one moment right now to release the judgment you have around it.

What did you learn? 

All is not lost.  You are on a beautiful journey of learning.  Embrace that today, minus your judgments on the outcome.

Your best teacher can be your last mistake.  

But only if you let it.

to more love,


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