Every effort creates an echo or even a dissonance to be listened to, to build on. Even a “failed” effort creates a lingering question. The question is, can you persist and grow from it?
A funny thing happened on the way to getting in the habit of going to the Writers Room and writing every day. I’ve had good writing days and bad writing days. But I am starting to notice that even just trying, created little “echoes.” Little questions and connections come up as soon as I finish and leave to my day job. The little hurdles and discoveries can echo throughout the day. I’ve found myself “writing” while looking at the window or walking to work.
I am a Zen dropout so please excuse me for using/abusing Zen speak. I think the challenge becomes when we become too attached to these mistakes and avoid areas were we can make mistakes. Those little “troubling” areas might even become potential areas for growth and contribution.
Richard Farson and Ralph Keys apparently wrote a whole book about this called, Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins. They even quote Yagyu Munenori, a swordsman who wrote, “When an archer forgets consciousness of shooting, and shoots in a normal frame of mind, as if unoccupied, the bow will be steady.. . . .When you do everything in the normal state of mind, as it is when totally unoccupied, then everything goes smoothly and easily . . .When you are not consciously mindful, you’ll succeed every time.” (120)
Farson and Keys go way too far with the whole samurai thing 🙂 and explain, “Today’s best leaders are like outstanding samurai warriors in the sense that they engage themselves fully in tasks at hand without being distracted by what might go wrong.” (p. 120) [I’m going to put that book in the hopper and see if it is worth your try.]
I just recently read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. One of the valuable things I learned from this was a neurological explanation of the importance of practice. In a cool set of graphics, Coyle explains how, “repetitive use of connections of the brain–or practice–triggers cells called oligodendrocytes, which wrap layer upon layer around those connections. This optimizes the connections, making them more like broadband Internet connections–than like dial-up.”
What the graphics don’t explain is that making mistakes and working with and around them is part of this practice. The challenge becomes how to not to become too attached to mistakes and errors and move through them and beyond them. However, the better you become, new and more interesting “problems” arise. Compassion helps. Would you scream at a baby if they fell down while learning to walk? (If you would, please let me be the first to call the authorities.) Timers and time limits help. (See Samurai Time is on Your Side.)
Which reminds me of a corny story. I was walking on 57th street with my four year old daughter. I was biting myself not to tell her how to get to the nearby Carnegie Hall. Practice! Practice! Happy New Year, even if you read this in the middle of July. Go to the places were you fear mistakes. Listen to their echoes but don’t linger there. Go!