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Learning from your 'Mistakes'

I used to work with a fab lady who always used to correct me whenever I said I’d made a mistake. If I said something like… “this mistake here…” and before I got to the end of the sentence, she’d interrupt me with “you mean this opportunity to improve”. It always used to make me chuckle but she was absolutely right though. How you look at situations in life really affects how you move on and learn from them.

Last Saturday I went to an artist’s street market in Cirencester. I’ve got a few of these markets booked between now and Christmas and this one was a late addition to the diary as there was a vacancy. In my naivety, I thought doing one in the summer months would be a great way to break myself in gently - that was my first ‘opportunity to improve’… and believe me there were many more to follow!

I knew before I went that the chance of intimidation was high, I would be surrounded by quality artists who regularly attend these types of events and customer expectation would be right up there. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it, but what little time I did have, I spent on my pieces rather than my display, which made sense to me because it was going to be a lovely, sunny day and everything would set out nicely on the table and look fab. I was also a little bit guilty of the old burying my head in the sand scenario, I was scared and as a result I didn’t want to think about it too much so I just didn’t… until Friday night when it all came crashing down around with me as the reality dawned in the early hours.

Hence, I already arrived feeling tired and stressed and what followed was the toughest 10 hour stretch I’ve had since I started Craft Happy. I won’t go into the finer details but let’s just say they involved… setting up inside what can only be described as a wind tunnel, torrential rain, not enough clothing, not enough work to display, desperate feelings of insecurity and a strong sense of feeling trapped by the whole sorry scenario because I couldn’t do what I desperately wanted to do which was go home and cry!

The reason I don’t want to go into the details is because I know where I went wrong and I’m working on those areas for next time, so there’s no point dwelling on it. In fact, I’ve already started to do focus on certain areas and I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to identify what those are at this stage in the year. I would much rather have that information now than in November when it’s busier.

The other reason is because I want to talk about the wonderful things that also happened. Lucy on the table next to me who helped me to stretch my tablecloth out and held it down for me while I looked for something to secure it (I didn’t have anything but… you know… the thought was there), Louise behind me who calmly handed me some crocodile clips while this was taking place and quietly whispered an encouraging, “well done” when I made my first sale, the fellow stall holder who walked past shielding her chips from the rain and told me how brave I was to be doing my first one in such appalling conditions and the numerous people who complimented my work and said that I will learn so much from this experience and come back stronger. None of them needed to do any of that but they did and for that I am hugely grateful.

When you work for yourself, these are the people who have your back. These are the people who care and who know what you’re going through because they’ve been there themselves. They don’t see it as a competition because they are secure in their own growth and performance. I learnt a lot from this and my only wish is that I could show half as much kindness to others on a daily basis as I received last Saturday because it goes a long way and I don’t think we actually realise how much of an impact a small selfless act of kindness can have on the quality of someone else’s day 😊

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