Character Chats

Confidence With Mistakes

Confidence when we make a mistake.

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education and we have developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are three, and our oldest student who is 85.


And this month we have been talking about confidence. We started off the month talking about what it feels like, what it looks like. We went into confidence when we are trying new things, taking some risks. Last week we talked about confidence and how do we show those around us that we believe in them when we’re standing next to the person who’s saying, “I can’t do it.” How do we instill some confidence in that person?

Messing Up

And this week we’re talking about confidence when we make a mistake. Now, I would like to believe that I am like most people in that I do not like to mess up. I don’t like to make a mistake. I don’t want to be wrong, all of that stuff. I don’t think anybody wants to feel that way. But then it’s a matter of how do we find the confidence to say, “Yes, I messed up. Yes, I made a mistake.” How do we find the confidence to say, “I’m sorry,” and actually truly say it in a way that demonstrates that you mean it. And how do we have the confidence to learn from our mess-ups, to learn from our failures?

Failing Forward

And one of the acronyms for FAIL is First Attempt in Learning. And when someone is coming to me saying, “Hey, I messed up,” that’s when my response is, “That’s your first attempt in learning. What did we learn? Where did we grow? How do we get better?” It’s super easy for me to grant that grace to the person who has messed up. I have no trouble with that particular one. It’s granting the grace to myself to say, “That’s your first attempt in learning. What did you figure out? What did you learn?” And when we have the confidence in ourselves, the confidence in our assessment of what we did, our self-evaluation skills, our ability to ask questions, we can apply that same level of forgiveness and grace to ourselves, that we would apply to somebody coming to us, saying, “Hey, I messed up.”

And that is the key to having the confidence when you mess up, knowing that everybody else around you is going to, at some point or another because no one is perfect, human beings are not perfect, giving ourselves the ability to say, “That’s the first attempt I have in learning. How do I make it better? What can I do again?” It helps grow your skills. It helps grow your evaluation tools. It helps grow your knowledge base because when someone else makes a similar mistake, then you can say, “Hey, this is what I learned when I did that,” because we’re alike. We’ve done it together. Having that confidence to be able to say, “I am learning. I am human,” is important.

Apologizing Confidently

And so is knowing how to apologize in a really positive manner. Looking someone straight in the eyes and saying, “I’m sorry.” Making sure that when you say it, you also say what you’re sorry for. Not just, “I’m sorry,” but, “I’m sorry I did…” And own the error. Own the mistake. And how are you going to make it better? It’s your first attempt in learning, this is how you’re going to fix it going forward. When we have those moments, it helps us not just gain confidence, but also build some good habits, build some self-evaluation habits, build some questioning habits, build some, “How do I work through situations?” type of habits. And that’s where our confidence comes from.

Knowing that we have good habits moving forward, knowing that we have the ability to apologize, knowing that we are demonstrating a positive attitude. Sometimes people view apologies as negative, but they don’t have to be. It’s a positive step forward because you are trying to rectify the situation. You are trying to learn from where things went wrong and that’s how you build your confidence. The more you know, the more you grow.

That’s like an old TV commercial from when I was a kid, but it’s a very relevant thing. I remember when one of my kids was absolutely having a fit, completely and totally. And as a parent, I lost my cool with it. And after both of us had calmed down, I needed to demonstrate to them how you apologize.

And so I sat down with them and I said, “Look, I’m sorry. I lost my cool. The next time that you’re having a rough day, I will not yell the way I did.” And they had a surprised look on their face, a little bit of a shocked look on their face, because I don’t think they recognized that an adult would apologize to them. However, by doing that, I’ve noticed that them giving an apology, is a little bit easier because we all understand it, we all recognize it, and it’s okay. It’s an okay situation.

And that’s how you build the confidence, and the knowledge, and the ability to stand tall with your head up, knowing that you can try something new. Take a risk, make a mistake, mess up, and learn from it. Grow your habits, be more positive, and move forward in a competent manner.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here