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Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 8:35:25 AM
by xandria ooi
It doesn’t matter how many times you make mistakes in
your life, what matters is how you learn from them
WHEN I first hosted live on radio, it was a feat in multi-tasking.
Between connecting with a guest over an interview, keeping eye contact with my co-host just in case we need to signal each other, and trying to remember what buttons to press and which to avoid, it was nerve-wrecking to say the least.
We’d had a few sessions in learning how to panel — where we play music, turn microphones on and off, adjust background music, pick up and edit calls — basically controlling what goes on air.
It was scary to have that level of control. Everything that went wrong would be undeniably noticeable as listeners could hear every panelling mistake.
Not making mistakes was too much to hope for, so we just grimaced every time something didn’t go as planned and moved on.
After being on radio for a week, I started absolutely loving all the mistakes I made, for I discovered that the only way to conquer the scary looking buttons and seemingly complicated steps in pushing them was to make as many mistakes as possible.
The sooner I made my mistakes, the faster I learned.
I’ve always had the notion that mistakes are perfectly fine and, in many ways, beneficial, as long as we take note to not repeat the same mistakes.
The problem with mistakes isn’t the mistake itself, it is in the way we handle it immediately after.
My first lesson in embracing mistakes was in college, where my Canadian director of
programme told me that it “doesn’t matter that you drop the ball, it’s how you pick it up that matters.”
Perfection isn’t something I seek, because there’s little growth nor innovation in never learning anything new.
With radio, it was a joy to discover what not to do whenever I made a mistake.
We can train for months to learn the theory but to truly understand something or to make it better, we have to make mistakes.
The way we view mistakes has to be pre-determined, before mistakes happen.
The only reason I say this is because our mindset governs the way we react to mistakes.
For example, if I was afraid of mistakes, the next time I forget a line from my script or stumble walking on stage (all, by the way, which have happened before), I would feel so distraught or embarrassed that I might not be able to carry on smoothly.
The only reason mistakes don’t unnerve me is because picking up the ball always matters more.
The other problem with mistakes is that it can be disastrous if there is no post-mortem, reflection or an analysation on how to avoid making the same mistake in the near future or ever again.
We all know not to cry over split milk — it’s elementary stuff — yet perhaps it might not be so elementary when we see adults not handling split milk well.
Some would stand there and swear and curse. Some would wring their hands in dismay and stare at the mess in distress.
Some would quickly clear the mess up and pour another glass of milk, all the while noting to be more mindful in the kitchen.
Mistakes aren’t pleasant when they happen and often inconvenience or affect other people as well. But it’s important to acknowledge that nobody intentionally sets out to make a mistake, that’s why it is called a mistake and not a sabotage.
So, following this theory, it is highly unproductive to simply be furious at an employee for making a mistake in the work place.
Yelling at someone does not make them reflect or analyse, it simply freezes the brain, leaving them unable to pick up the ball.
There is no need to feel awful or be utterly distraught at our own mistakes.
However, at no point should this be confused with being nonchalant or flippant over a mistake.
Brushing off a mistake is different from acknowledging it calmly with a solution at hand. There is little or no excuse in making the same mistakes over and over again as it goes beyond carelessness.
Nobody wants to forget their wallet or mobile phones yet sometimes we are just careless. Even so, we all have the ability to make conscious effort by putting in measures that ensure we don’t forget anything important when we step out of the house.
Similarly, no matter how bad we are at something, there is always something we can do to improve it.
Kicking ourselves do little for a mistake we’ve made. Cliché as it may sound, the past is gone but we can always influence the future.
Acknowledging our mistakes in the present and working on not making them again in the future is when we turn every mistake into an opportunity.
Xandria Ooi is a Malaysian TV & radio personality. If you have any stories on mistakes you’d like to share, email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her at www.twitter.com/xandriaooi.
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