Monday, December 21, 2015

Failure vs. mistakes

I talk a lot about failure in my blog.  From fear of it to dealing with it to avoiding it, failure is something I think is worth bringing up often, at least to lessen its impact on us as performers.

But in all my posts, I've realized that I've approached failure in binary terms, in black-and-white.  Failure is the worst-case scenario, the far end of the spectrum.  At the other end would be something like making an error so small that only you notice.

Actual failure is something most of us experience.  This could be something like starting the wrong song to having a drum break on you.  But all the other stuff?  I'm going to define these less-than-failure moments as "mistakes".

Mistakes happen all the time.  I'm betting you've made plenty but you don't dwell on them much.  An interesting question to ask yourself is, where does the difference happen between "caring" and "moving on" for you?  What mistakes cause you worry and what failures make you laugh?

I realize that simply telling yourself that "I will not fear failure" is a lofty goal.  But you can set your sights a little lower to start, and look at the mistakes that don't bother you.  Why don't they bother you?  How do you deal with them?  Can you apply that to bigger mistakes?

Some of you will recall that I've fallen OFF a stage before, early on.  That's definitely a failure.  I recovered really really well, (arguably enough to surpass the fail) but it was something that made all the failures later on over the years seem pretty minor in comparison.  Taking into account your previous failures or even other people's failures can make a new "failure" seem like just a mistake, instead.  Once you start doing this as a process, you might find that fear of future failures is lessened, because the failures are becoming less and less impactful.

No one wants to fail, but we all have coping mechanisms for the smaller mistakes.  Figuring out how to treat future failures is a big part of growing as an artist - taiko player or otherwise!

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