Make M.O.R. mistakes: Take full advantage of your fails

Ouch. That sucked. ...Now what?

Failing rules.

Making mistakes is a sign that you are on the right path.  If you haven’t had a defeat recently, are you really pushing?

So we have to get used to mistakes.  Even embrace them. How?

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I say, make M.O.R. mistakes:

M: Move on.  

Save thoughts on the mistake for later.  It’s not easy to drop the emotions and analysis that explode into the mind.  Treat this like a skill that requires practice. Like coming back to the breath after your mind wanders during meditation.

You have more important things to do than focus on the mistake.  Don’t let the mind stray from beautiful sound, execution and musical concept in the present moment.  

If you don’t move on, you’re gonna have a bad time.  We’ve all had a moment where a minor error captured our minds and we snowballed into catastrophe. Don’t let one defeat end your whole night!

This is why recording yourself is awesome–you don’t have to burden your mind keeping track of your victories and defeats.  You can focus 100% of your attention on the present and return later for a post-mortem.

No matter what just happened, the next note you play is always an opportunity to be awesome.  It is never too late for that. Never.

If you really are having trouble letting go, there is a secret weapon: LAUGHTER.  Take your craft seriously, but not so seriously that you can’t chuckle at a mistake.

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O: Own it.

Take full ownership. If you don’t, you won’t grow.  

Resist the urge to blame anything--another musician, the situation, even yourself.  That’s a stone-age impulse. Wasted energy.

Take accountability to your team when appropriate.  (Sometimes this is helpful to do in real time to make clear that you are aware of the problem and to avoid possible confusion.  But do so subtly while the audience is watching.)

A bigger mistake may warrant a conversation after the gig.  Tell your peers and your leader what happened and how you will fix it moving forward.

Good leaders value accountability over perfection.  If you truly take accountability, they will likely respect you MORE after this conversation. (If they don’t, find another leader. As soon as possible. Seriously.)

R: Redeem.

Here’s the best part: Mistakes are insights in disguise.

Take notes on your mistake as soon as possible.  You will never have more clarity on your strengths and weaknesses than immediately after the gig.

I keep a running list of mistakes I’ve made on gigs. Each mistake is actually a pricelessly valuable gift.  It’s hard-won intelligence right from the battlefield. You don’t have to theorize about your weak spots in the practice room–you have actual data now.  That means attacking this list daily is guaranteed to be one of the most efficient ways to level up.

The routine is simple:

  • Pick the mistake that stung most.

  • Analyze and plan.

  • Practice ‘til you sweat.

  • Improve slightly.

  • Repeat daily.  



Bryant Smith
Contributing Editor

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