Own It – Mistakes & Mess-Ups

A moral lesson on owning your  mistakes and mess-ups. As told by Cheeky Monkey…

During Culture Games Holland, we have everyone channel their inner artist by attempting to recreate the painting below after seeing it for only ten seconds. It trains various dynamics and traits but I shan’t bore you with the theory, mainly it’s a very fun game. The first big laugh is after five minutes when the host (often me) orders pens down and everyone holds their painting up to the camera. It ranges from wonderful to abysmal, and the banter that ensues is quite delicious.

During a session a session last year, we had a team of roughly equals and then Paul (yes, details have been changed to protect identities) who was clearly higher up. As it turned out he was a couple of levels above. Everyone seemed to be in slight trepidation of him – not that he mean or anything, you could just tell that people weren’t used to being themselves around him.

Added to that, Paul was clearly not engaged with the session. I let him know that it was okay, we’d move along as best we could and he could join in where possible, but he insisted that he was fully engaged and not to worry.

We got to the art game. Everyone held up their paintings, and they all resembled in some sense the painting below. Except Paul’s. His had squiggles representing haystacks, smaller squiqqles representing stars, and then other random swirls. Paul clearly, had not been paying attention and it transpired when he texted a colleague for clarification he was told “you have to paint Van Gogh.”

This was my moment to make it all gel together.

“Ah, Paul…”, I said as I got the slide of the painting back up on screen and instructed him to raise his rendering again. “You’re really captured his likeness there”, I said with faux authority. Paul put his hand to his face.

“Not just the details of his face and clothes, which are uncanny, but it’s as if  you’ve captured his soul too.”

At this point Paul started laughing, and so did the rest of the group.

“You really have a gift–”

“–Yeah, I get it!”, he said cutting me off and smiling. “I’m sorry guys.” He sounded sincere and sheepish. There were smiles all round.

One of the guys in the group chimed in at just the perfect moment:

“I love you painted the haystacks from the original.”

Paul burst out laughing.

We then ploughed on with the second part of the game. A few sketches are chosen as finalists, and in small groups in breakout rooms they work to improve it even further. I made Paul one of the artists for this part of the game, and his instruction was to actively listen to his teammates and to do his version of the painting.

When everyone was done with the breakout rooms, Paul showed his new sketch. It was a reasonable version of the painting, but he had added a teardrop to Van Gogh’s face and titled it, ‘The Apology.’ It got a laugh and a clap, and Paul took a humble bow.

The rest of the session passed with a cosy atmosphere indeed.