We all have them from time to time, an epic fail in a performance. Whether it’s a memory slip you can’t recover from or a glaring error that cuts us to the core, you wish that the floor would open up and swallow you whole. This first installment of a two-part blog post will show you how to move forward and get your groove back if this should happen to you. The second part will show you how to help someone else, for instance, a student, if it happens to them.It shouldn’t have happened. You practiced, you prepared, and still it happened, with everyone watching. The epic fail. And it has happened to most of us, including me. And it feels horrible.
But after the dust settles, you have a choice. You can either wallow in the embarrassment and self-pity, or you can decide that this is a learning experience, one that you won’t have to repeat if you take the proper steps.
One of my favorite quotes about failure is attributed to Thomas Edison:
“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
So we are not defined by a failure. Instead, we can choose how we will be transformed by it. Will we accept the defeat as a final one and retreat? Or will we accept it as a challenge to grow and get ready to win the second round?
I have a few ideas, the fruits of my personal experiences, to help you choose the challenge. They cover two stages: Recovery and Re-Building.
1. Accept what happened without assigning blame or making excuses. What happened, happened. For right now, don’t try to figure anything out. Just realize that it happened and you’re still here. The failure is over. It was a moment. You are a person who is living, breathing and already beyond the failure.
2. Stage a “mulligan.” Play a do-over performance ASAP at home for your parents, friends, husband, the neighbors, whoever will listen. Clear the bad karma. Get back on the horse.
3. Next, pretend your fail happened to someone else. You were in the audience and witnessed the epic fail. What encouraging words would you say to that person afterwards? Write them down. You will not only re-build your confidence, but it will give you a more balanced view of what actually happened. Later on, when you need some positive energy, read what you wrote. These are words from a person who understands what you have been through!
4. Ask your teacher or coach to help you understand why this happened. Were there things you could have done differently to prevent it? This is active re-building. You will try to discover what you did well, and you will look for insight into other ways to prevent the same kind of result. Be careful not to assign blame to other people, only to your actions and circumstances. List what you did well and specific ways you can improve. Make these the basis for your plan for the next time. Remember it’s OK to make mistakes; just make new ones!
6. Failure is an event, not a person. The failure happened TO you, but it is NOT you. You are the person who is learning how to succeed. And this epic fail will help you on your way to epic success.