Edison quote failureAs the school year wraps up, I reflect on the intersection of learning a new skill and encouragement. My daughter is nearing the end of her first year of playing the trumpet for her middle school band. From my perspective, she’s done remarkably well. To hear her tell it though, you’d form a different conclusion. When she practices her trumpet, she’s prone to moaning and proclaiming, “that was terrible!” whenever she makes the slightest mistake. Then she starts over again. This creates a series of very truncated songs, because she doesn’t ignore the small mistakes and continue playing. Yes, there is a rampant case of perfectionism brewing here.

A few months ago, after about six months of listening to her practice, I realized that my daughter’s perspective of practice isn’t fully formed. Her desire to play a musical piece–start to finish–without a mistake is a laudable goal. It is the ultimate aim of playing music. However, she hadn’t yet learned to see the mastery of a musical instrument as that of a journey, one with many stops along the way to the ultimate destination.

After I made this realization, I decided to shift the way I offered encouragement. I began to praise her when she was “close enough.” It was akin to management author Ken Blanchard’s saying of trying to “catch people doing something right.” Only, I modified it to “almost right.” I tried to help her see that when she gets a note “almost right” she should continue with the song, rather than breaking the flow. Over time, I told her, the notes would smooth out and she would achieve the melodic sound she desired.
Years ago, our family watched the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons.” The theme of the movie was learning to embrace failure and mistakes as a natural part of the creative process. At the end of the movie, as the credits rolled, this quote appeared from Walt Disney: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” I often think of this movie when my kids are feeling discouraged and likely to give up on an endeavor.

Drawing on both Disney and Edison, I decided to help my daughter shift her perspective: she wasn’t “failing” so much as she was figuring out how not to do something. This approach has paid off: her band teacher recently shared with me that my daughter is doing very well in class. Even more importantly, my daughter enjoys her practice sessions these days. That’s not to say that she doesn’t still get frustrated from time to time, but she’s more likely to “keep moving forward.”

And that is a recipe for successfully mastery of any skill.

Where in your life can you help someone see the value of “almost right?”



Copyright : Jaromír Chalabala


How to be Productive When You Work for Someone Else

April 25, 2016

What’s your favorite day of the work week? I bet you said “Friday,” right? Because it’s the day before the weekend starts. Fair enough. Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week. Why? Because I’ve implemented a time management process that helps me stay focused and get lots of work done. I’ll lay out the […]

Read the full article →

4 Tips for Avoiding Costly Hiring Mistakes

April 19, 2016

How many interviews should a company conduct to find the ideal job candidate? What role does “gut instinct” play in hiring? Is there a perfect applicant screening process? These are the questions that HR directors and hiring managers grapple with every day. The answer is discouraging, yet unsurprising: it’s a lot more complicated than you […]

Read the full article →

4 Great Questions to Ask Before You Use Personality Assessments in Your Company

April 14, 2016

I’m a huge advocate of using personality assessments (sometimes called “profiles” or “instruments”) for professional development, if the circumstances are right and the tool being used is appropriate for the situation. That’s a significant “if.” Often, I encounter overly enthusiastic executives who want to use a particular assessment with their team because they personally favor that […]

Read the full article →

Big Data Needn’t Be “Evil Data” in the Workplace

April 12, 2016

When I work with executives, I’m wary when they get that “gleam” in their eye when reviewing reams of data with me. If it’s nothing but, “50% margin blah blah” and “trending indicators yada yada,” warning bells go off in my head. There needs to be the counter-weight of people somewhere in that equation to inform their decision-making. Big data […]

Read the full article →

@Globoforce CEO on Creating a #WORKHUMAN Culture

April 11, 2016

“When most people think of the word ‘work’ they don’t tend to pair ‘human’ with it.” How sad is that? But it’s true, especially when you consider the modern office’s use of technology. Technology does everything from scheduling bathroom breaks in a call center to monitoring employee performance reviews. And when technology is used to […]

Read the full article →

What Your HR Manager Can (and Can’t) Accomplish with Assessments

April 5, 2016

“Hey Jennifer, we want to do a team building event with the XYZ personality assessment.” Over the years, this is how many of my conversations with senior leaders have started. Whether it was in my role as a corporate trainer, or as an independent executive coach, the theme was constant: a team leader sees a […]

Read the full article →

3 Typical Problems First-Time Managers Face—and How to Solve Them

March 28, 2016

Taking on your first official management role is exciting. It’s also challenging, overwhelming and perplexing. In a webinar with over 900 first-time managers, The Ken Blanchard Companies asked people to list their biggest challenge when they made the leap from individual contributor. David Witt, Program Director for Blanchard, wrote about their responses in this LinkedIn […]

Read the full article →

A New Look for The People Equation

March 24, 2016

Exciting news! The People Equation is getting some “work done.” Over the next few months, the site will undergo a transformation – with the aim of providing you access to useful and timely information to help you “master the people equation.” First up, a new “look.” Here’s the new logo: Here’s what graphic designer Lauren Mary […]

Read the full article →

The Careers Network – Thousands of Executive Education Resources at Your Fingertips

March 22, 2016

Here’s a great resource I recently learned about: The Careers Network. The Careers Network has taken on the ambitious goal of cataloging all publicly offered executive development programs throughout the world. So far, they’ve amassed a list nearing 2,500. Natalie Baker, the site’s US editor-in-chief, told me that the site’s goal is to provide the […]

Read the full article →