Oops. I have been working with some of my students/clients recently on an interesting problem. It has to do with music in these cases, but you also see that in non musical areas. The student will be playing the assignment, make a small mistake, correct it, and continue. The student then circles the mistake and practices getting it right 3 times in a row. He pats himself on the back and starts the song again. He gets to the exact same place in the music, makes the exact same mistake, makes the exact same correction and then continues as if he’d not done anything wrong. He’s practiced correcting the mistake, not actually playing the passage correctly.
One student was having writing problems. Every time he had to write a “d” he’d write a “b”, look at it funny, crinkle his brow, erase it and correct it. Now this was every d in every sentence. He’d practiced correcting the mistake, not thinking about the letter and devising a way to write it correctly the 1st time.
You ever meet someone at a gathering and being introduced to someone who says they don’t remember your name and then excusing themselves by saying, “I’m horrible at names!” At this particular meeting, I’d had a particularly rough day and was terribly rude to this person. No excuse, and I did apologize, but not before I’d made my point. I replied, “So I’m not important enough for you to learn my name? Why are you introducing yourself then? You want me to remember you but you’re guaranteeing that you will forget me as soon as someone else becomes available to talk to? I won’t tell you my name, but I will introduce you to some one else. I won’t use your correct name, I will put you in the wrong company, and will say something really unflattering about you to this really important person. By the way, this really important person knows my name and he’s miles above you in the hierarchy. If he thinks my name is important to know, do you think maybe it’s important for you to know too?” I went to the bathroom to collect myself. I was shaking from rage and adrenaline, and when I came to my senses, I did extend my deepest apology, and called this person by name. “I’m sorry Renee, my behavior was inexcusable. I should not have lashed out at you.”
The point is this: sometimes we make excuses for the mistakes, and then practice correcting them instead of doing it correctly to start with. It was obvious that the person with the name problem was correcting and excusing the inability to remember the names. There were several approaches that she could have used. “Hi I’m Renee!” “Hi I’m Rebecca. Renee, is that French?” “Yes it is. Do you live on Sunnybrooke Farm? He he he!” “Ha ha. What do you do, Renee?” “I’m in Human Resources over at the main plant. What do you do Rebecca?” See how they keep using the name over and over? She’s making connections so that when she sees me again, she’ll see that farm, she’ll remember the fact that I’m interested in the name origin. Whatever, she’ll be forming mental pictures in her head regarding my name and what ever connection we make. Another approach is to ask me to spell my name. Another is to find common ground–I see this isn’t your first time at the convention! Did you go the last time?
How about the guy that always has a lead foot when driving? He keeps speeding, looking down at the speedometer, letting off on the gas, but continues to let it creep up over and over. “Oh yeah, I’m a lead foot. Life to me is like driving sideways down the interstate!” Or he could set his cruise control…
So if you find yourself constantly doing the same job twice, once wrong by reflex, then a smart, considered approach where the job is done correctly by finding the mistake and fixing it, you need to make sure that once you’ve corrected the mistake, YOU DON’T CONTINUE TO MAKE THE MISTAKE. Be aware of your situation, what causes you to make the mistake. Be conscientious about the mistake, slow down before you get to that point, then carefully do what you plan to do rather than act on auto pilot. If you do make the mistake, apologize for it, fix it, then DON’T MAKE IT AGAIN! Do not cover it up. Do not offer excuses. People don’t care if there were extenuating circumstances for your actions. You may think that you have reasons (I didn’t have a choice!) for your mistake. Your victims and your partners don’t care about reasons or excuses. You either do your task correctly or not. Do not practice correcting an action, do the action correctly.