I Made A Mistake

by Dr. Alison Chen ND | Follow on Twitter

How to put yourself out there with confidence, even after you f*ck up.

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I’VE MADE MANY MISTAKES in my life, but recently I made a professional mistake.

As I sat in a Starbucks in San Francisco on a family vacation I opened up an email that made me instantaneously break down in tear.

I had a formal complaint to my medical board for an article I wrote with misleading information.

It was not a proud moment for me, but a really important learning experience.

It’s fun to see your article being featured in Good Men Project, Huffington Post, and even smaller sites like Hearty Soul. Seeing your Facebook Page grow from 500 likes to >16,000 is exhilarating. And seeing the number of views and shares on a post is addictive.

I admit that I get caught up in wanting more views, “likes” and email opt-ins, but I made the mistake of trying to copy sensationalized articles and not staying true to writing valuable and high-quality information.

I wrote an article that I’m not proud of. I didn’t include proper referencing and the information in the article was misleading, and potentially harmful to a reader searching for ways to treat serious conditions.

It was a piece of a larger article that was linked within, but as a stand alone post it didn’t meet my normal high standards for quality. I posted it, not thinking twice.

After receiving that email, I cried for a while.

I stopped writing for a few weeks, fearful for getting in more trouble and second guessing my ability to provide good information. I even briefly debated remaining in my profession.

I listed the worse case scenarios and thought I might even have my license taken away.

Looking back now, I see these were irrational emotions, but the moment hit me hard. Since graduating CCNM, I’ve dedicated my time trying to improve the Naturopathic medical profession, and now I was not being the leader I wanted to be.

Emotionally attached to my title, I wasn’t thinking about the responsibility I have to the people reading the articles. The general public who values a doctor’s advice more than the average spammy, click-baiting post.

I have a responsibility with everything I write, and I don’t take this lightly.

Of course this is not where the story ends. I am not giving up and I am not going to continue feeling sorry for myself.

The bigger lesson is to fix my mistake, learn, and growth. The lesson is to not be afraid of failure but be inspired by little mistakes that will motivate me to continue striving and reaching to be better. A better practitioner and person.

So I re-wrote the article with complete research and accepted my mistakes. I’m sorry for writing misleading information and I’m committed to elevating my level of professionalism by being honest to who I am and the quality education I’ve received.

I don’t need to resort to sensationalized articles because consistency and quality will provide enough evidence for my readers.

But it’s important not to be afraid to try.

When you try for something that is challenging, you will make mistakes. And hopefully they will be small mistakes with little potential for harm. And when you do, make sure to take responsibility for them, learn, fix the mistake if possible, grow, AND MOVE ON.

Don’t forget the last step because if you stay stuck in your mistake it would be for nothing. Getting over your mistakes and failures is the defining moment that creates innovators and leaders.

I don’t want to play small. I don’t want to do what is “safe”. I want to push myself to be my best. To do it authentically and with an expectation of excellence in quality.

Are You Scared?

So I hope by reading this it doesn’t scare you or stop you from trying. I know many of my colleagues don’t write publicly for this very reason.

Fear of being called out for writing something misleading, not well studied in the “double blind, meta-analysis”-type of way, or saying something that is controversial.

You are probably scared, uncertain and doubtful of making your work public.

I don’t blame you.

Not many people can make it as an entrepreneur because at times it’s really scary. It takes a lot of determination, courage, blind-faith and commitment.

When I was a kid, I had so much courage. Nothing seemed to scare me until I was about 6 years old.

At 6, I started to get scared. At 6, when my coaches would ask me to perform a scary flip or tough gymnastics routine I did it because I was scared to let them down.

Most of what I’ve done in life has come out of fear. Fear that I’m not enough, fear that I should be doing more, fear of not meeting others’ expectations, fear of being alone, fear of failing… the list goes on.

And because I’ve done pretty well for myself (so far), the lesson that fear is the what motivates me to be successful has been ingrained.

There is a high after you successfully do something you are fearful of, which can’t be replicated. You feel invincible and unstoppable.

That is until you take on the next scary thing that has you doubtful, scared, anxious, etc.

Unconsciously, I’ve wired myself to think that I must take on something that scares me in order to overcome it and be successful.

But fear is a horrible motivator… I mean it’s actually one of the best tactics that sales people use, but it is grown from such negative soil that the reward feels tainted.

I’ve made mistakes.

I wrote an article I’m not proud of. And even though I went back to make the necessary changes, the potential harm is already done.

I’ve had negative comments said about me and about my writing, but I learned from them and got back up to make it better.

I take criticism seriously and evaluate whether it was justified or not. I do this by being as objective as possible (this is not easy when your ego is bruised):

  • Did I do the best work I could have?
  • Was is backed by quality references and resources?
  • Was it misleading or did I jump to false conclusions?
  • Was it confusing?
  • Could the general public be harmed by reading this?
  • Or is the other person just a hater or troll not interested in the content of the message but just wants to make a scene?

You will make mistakes, you are human. But the more you try the better you will be at succeeding and making a genuine impact on the lives of others.

Make many small mistakes so that you don’t end up making really huge ones.

I am often scared. I often visualize every scenario that could go wrong and I freeze. I feel trapped. What really sets me free is also one of the hardest things for me to do. Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Be objective – Try to remove your emotions and see it from an outsider’s perspective. Your best intentions isn’t an excuse for poor quality.
  2. Be authentic – Stay true to you and don’t try to impress others.
  3. Be confident – Say it loud and proud. Do great work and let everyone know about it (these are the rules that Jon lives by).
  4. Be accountable – If you mess up, own it. It’s the only way to growth, learn and be better.

I only have one shot at life and I want to make it count. I want to be my best, make a positive impact on others and I want to live an expansive life. This means I will mess up from time to time. This means I have a lot of being accountable for my actions. This mean I will be challenged.

But this also means that I have the chance to be a bigger person. To question who I am and what I’ve done in an objective light. Only then can I be authentic to who I am, and confident in my thoughts, words and actions.

It will get tougher before it gets easier my friends… Keep pushing.

About the Author
Dr. Alison Chen ND

Dr. Alison Chen ND graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and was the recipient of the humanitarian award. Her background in competitive gymnastics, personal training, and volunteer work in Africa gives her a well-rounded view to living well.   Since graduating Alison has traveled the world exploring different ways to think and teach about healing. She believes that education should be consumable and fun, so she created theNDDC and wrote an illustrated rhyming book about poo. Seriously, check out the poo book on Amazon here.