Event Summary: Frank’s Foutenfabriek

Know that feeling when you make a mistake? A negative vibe, that drains your energy and probably will end up in you making more mistakes. How awesome would it be if that would not happen again? If you could just move on from your mistakes, with new lessons learned? Now, would you believe me when I say that a balloon, an empty wine bottle and a ping pong ball could make that difference?

On February 23rd, Frank Deuring from the Foutenfabriek shared his wisdom with us on how to make the best out of the worst. First of all, he encouraged us to cheer as loud as we can whenever one of us made a mistake during the evening. Admitting to have made a mistake is difficult for everybody, so it should be awarded rightfully. Yet sometimes your environment might not be so supportive and admitting your mistake will be scary. Frank told us that the way others react on your mistake depends on your own attitude. You have to show others that you actually want to learn from the experience.

Why do we find it so difficult to make mistakes? What is a mistake really? Something did not turn out the way we wanted it to despite our efforts, so we feel sad about the end result. And because we were brought up in a society that pressures us to achieve things without making mistakes, we are under a lot of pressure. How much pressure exactly, can be shown by the balloon exercise. When the balloon is empty, it is as your comfort zone: nothing is happening. But blowing on the balloon until it nearly pops takes you to your stress zone: something is happening and that can be stressful, because you do not know when the balloon will pop. Now put so much pressure on your balloon so it snaps: you are currently in your panic zone.

So how do you get out of the panic zone? That is where the ping pong ball and the empty wine bottle come in. The assignment is to put the ping pong ball on top of the empty wine bottle while walking past it with a stretched arm - the bottle has no cap on it, so the ping pong ball should fit perfectly. When you focus on the ball and the bottle, you will probably not succeed. But when you focus on the surroundings, on the space behind and around the bottle and the ball, you chances to succeed are much higher. And that is basically the trick. Do not focus on your tasks and mistakes too much, but focus on what you can learn for the future.