Make Perfect Mistakes

Look at the board!

Look at the board!

I was talking to my best friend, whose wife had just given birth to a son, about the best way to practice writing. Taking heed to Buddha's words, I said dive into the work. He went on to tell me his preferred method. That he analyzed other writers' work to find what made it click. That he worked with a writing coach. That he practiced specific techniques that he found valuable. And that practicing needed to be perfect practice.

I then calmly asked him, "What the hell is perfect practice?"

To me, it sounded like you couldn't make mistakes while practicing when it's really the best time to make mistakes. It's those mistakes that we make in practice or immersed in our work that can give us some of the most profound insights. I told him there's no one correct way of doing anything well.

It's the geniuses, the innovators that create the rule, the market. Just look at the world of media. We have books and TV shows about wizards and vampires and wolves.

Eddy: I will suck your blood.  Buffy: I'll suck your blood, sucka!

Eddy: I will suck your blood.  Buffy: I'll suck your blood, sucka!

When I had my teaching and mentoring business, I was all about changing behavior. Shit. I was one of the laziest people I knew. I watched TV to no end. I had little passion for anything, or at least I thought I had little passion for anything. I slept for most of the day when I could. That was the life! Then something changed. A yearning grew. Not that yearning. Well...not the place to discuss.

I started to think about the things I wanted. Things I wished to accomplish. And somehow I was disciplined enough to go to the gym, write, have a social life, teach, and still have free time to just chill. How did I become disciplined? Hell if I know.

Hey! Up here!

Hey! Up here!

Actually, they were things that I wanted to do. Loved to do. I mean going to the gym was easy. There's a lot of hot chicks there.

During the years that I taught, I made a slow discovery. As awesome a teacher as I was, I couldn't make my students do anything. Yes, they listened to me. Yes, they behaved when I shushed them. But they eventually fell back to their shenanigans.

What I could do was listen to them, guide them toward their own well being, help them realize their own potential in real time physical exercises, and help them realize what they truly wanted in life. Their behavior was outside of my reach, outside of anyone's reach, except their own.

Your Breath Stinks
Your Breath Stinks

One parent came up to me and was extremely concerned about her child's time management skills. He loved to procrastinate. She was my client, so I did my best to try and change that behavior, asked him why he procrastinated, gave him specific things to do to swerve him from waiting till the last minute.

He made the changes for a day. Then he reverted back to his old ways. His grades never improved from the mostly A's and B's he already received. I know, I know.

Now in college, I asked him how school was going. He loved it, tried a slew of different things, as I suggested, so he could have a better idea of what he might love to do in life. I asked him how his grades were. Mostly A's and B's.

I asked him if he was ok with that. Totally fine, he answered.

Do you still procrastinate, I asked. He reluctantly nodded.

I laughed, told him that this was his method and that it seemed to work. If he felt bad about his grades, that he wanted to improve, then changes may need to be made (depending on why he felt bad). Since everything was fine, there was nothing to do but catch up on old times.

I had told my best friend this story, as he's also close to this family, and the silence on the phone meant he didn't agree.

He has his way toward excellence. I have mine. And as long as those methods work for us without any feelings of guilt or anxiousness, but with peace of mind, then whose to say that were wrong?