Why you need more safe learning spaces in your life

They may help you learn something about yourself instead of waiting to be perfect before trying something new.

Steffan Surdek
July 22, 2020
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Are you the type of person who is afraid to make mistakes? Does everything you do need to be perfect the first time, and then every other single time you do it? How do you feel those times when perfection does not work out and you make a mistake?

In your never-ending quest for perfection, you may be forgetting that practice makes perfect. Let's use professional athletes as an example. How do they get so good? They practice the same things over and over until it becomes a habit.

I am not saying there are not moments in life when you need to be your best and that could mean some form of perfection. The invitation to you is to find the safe spaces where you can practice and hone your craft.

What are these safe spaces?

A safe space is somewhere you can intentionally practice something different. For example, one of my friends always needed everything to be in order. One day we were talking and I suggested that he not make his bed for a week to see what would happen.

He tried it for fun and shared with me the first few days were very difficult for him. It felt strange not to make the bed and his instinct was fighting for him to do it. After a few days, he noticed nothing bad happened because he did not make his bed. Doing the exercise challenged his core beliefs around order and allowed him to let go of some of them.

Safe spaces are the places YOU CHOOSE to practice something specific in. For me, networking events are difficult because part of me is an introvert. When I go to places where I do not know anybody, I use them to practice new pitches to talk about what I do. I get to see what interests people, what works and what does not. I may even try different things with different people in the same event.

Focus on what you are learning

The best way to use safe spaces is to be very intentional in how you use them. You need to identify what you are trying to learn and focus on that instead of success or failure.

Take a moment and grab a piece of paper. Think about something you find difficult or challenging. Think about five different ways you can practice doing that and note those down as well. In each of these different ways to practice, identify what you would learn for each of them. Which one seems like the most fun to try, no matter the result? Which one has no big stakes or minimal risk for you if you fail? Now go do it and see what you learn from it!

The mindset you need to have with safe spaces is one of continuous learning. Take away the binary success or fail, win or lose aspects and do something for the sake of learning instead. You may find this enables you to try more things instead of waiting to be perfect before trying anything at all.

Safe spaces are powerful playgrounds you may not play in often enough! Part of our humanity lies in our vulnerability. You need to have the ability to say you do not know something or you made a mistake. Vulnerability is also about having the courage to own you are trying something and may not be good at it!

Safe spaces will also allow you to learn something in one aspect of your life that you can bring elsewhere. People sometimes split themselves into a persona at home and one at work. How can your safe spaces help you lead a more integrated life?

What are the safe spaces in your life? How are you using these spaces to become a better version of you?

This article was originally published on wellness.com in March 2018.