Xavier Jared


Two brothers on personal development, philosophy, and being awesome

Hidden Mistakes


The saying “Learn from your mistakes” gets thrown around a lot. It’s pretty solid advice too. The more screw ups you know not to do, the less screw ups you will make. The problem though, is that we hear it too much. We take it for granted that we will make mistakes and come out better off. If you do enough of something then this process is inevitable. However, unless you take the time to really reflect on the decisions you have made, or the circumstances you are in, you wont even realise all the mistakes you’ve made. And if you don’t know you’ve screwed up then you’re missing out on the learnin’.

Somethings are so obviously bad ideas that very little mental processing goes into avoiding them a second time. For example: If I touch an oven tray and it’s really hot, I’ll know my new toaster oven doesn’t cool down quite as fast as I thought. That’s survival 101. If something hurts, burns, or stabs—don’t go back for seconds. What about the screw ups that aren’t so black and white though? Something as simple as having the wrong attitude can be a huge mistake. These can slip right by us and if we don’t stop to really think about what went wrong, or what we could have done better, we’ll just keep repeating them.

Toaster Oven: 1. Jared: 0.
You win this round, toaster oven.

Xav recently posted an article about getting a bath tub. At the start of the story he was a Pessimistic Percy. He caught himself doing it and learnt that Practical Percy or maybe even Positive Percy are better personae to adopt. Alliteration aside, unless he stopped to think about it, he wouldn’t have even known he made a mistake. Let’s review what happened (now might be a good time to read his story, if you haven’t already). A proposal was made to acquire a bath tub, an adventure ensured and in the end a bath tub was acquired. He didn’t go bust on a new business venture, he didn’t throw his back out because he didn’t lift the tub from his knees, everything went pretty much to plan. If he didn’t stop to think about it he wouldn’t have ever realised a mistake was made.

Story Time Again

Things come in twos around here so I’m going to share a story of mine as well. Earlier this year I landed a music teaching position. I had plenty of drumming experience but not so much teaching, and virtually zero with the primary school age children I would be working with. In addition to one-on-one lessons there were two large ensemble groups that I also had to take if I wanted the job. I could sense the hesitation of my prospective employer when she brought up the ensembles but I didn’t flinch. I said yes straight away party because I really wanted to start teaching and partly because I grew up idolizing Han Solo and have been conditioned to think that jumping into things head first is the epitome of manliness.

So handsome!
Chances of getting a girlfriend? Never tell me the odds.

After my first week I could see why she was a bit reluctant to bring up the ensembles. A room full of primary school students with drum sticks in their hands and a young music teacher in charge is a recipe for disaster. Immediately afterwards I started thinking to myself that the job wasn’t for me. I made all sorts of excuses about why it was a smarter move to quit and that it wasn’t beneficial to my drumming prospects. Things got easier after the first couple of weeks though so I decided to hang on for a little while. I was lucky enough to have people around encouraging me to keep the position too. They could see all the positives that I had blocked out. I still had a very negative outlook on things, but I didn’t quit.

Fast forward to now and I’ve had a massive shift in attitude. I realised I was thinking about things the wrong way and made a conscious effort to change that. The positives include getting teaching experience in schools, getting good money for something I love doing and networking opportunities with over fifty other musicians who also work for the company. I was ignoring all this and instead thinking only about how difficult teaching a group was. I started seeking out advice from trained primary school teachers and put aside some time each week to prepare for the lessons. (Protip for any new teachers out there: dead fish is a life saver.) Almost instantly everything became so much easier. I started to enjoy the teaching much more and that enabled me to really focus on how I could get better at it. I saw my students both in the groups and the individual lessons (which I was previously having no difficulty with) improve dramatically and this helped re-enforce my new outlook even more.

I still struggle holding a room full of students attention for a whole hour but things have gotten much better. I no longer make up excuses about why the position isn’t for me. They were weak excuses in the first place. I couldn’t see it at first but my attitude was a huge mistake, and it could have cost me a very valuable part of my drumming life.

Let’s Review!

What really happened here? I got a job which I wasn’t really enjoying. That sort of thing happens all the time. No one likes their job. Just like in Xav’s story it doesn’t seem like a mistake was made there. I didn’t lose anything. If anything I was coming out on top. It didn’t mean I wasn’t screwing up though, and if I hadn’t stopped to think things through no lessons would have been learnt.

Don’t wait for bad things to happen before you learn from your mistakes. Something as simple as having the wrong attitude can be disastrous if you don’t pick up on it.

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