Never a Failure, Always a Lesson.

What have you learned from this?

Has anyone ever asked you that question? Especially these days with a worldwide pandemic, I’ve often heard people ask, “What have you learned from this?” I recently asked someone this same question, to which this person replied, “Why do we always have to learn something? Why can’t we just let it happen and go on with our life?” How would you answer that question?

I suppose you can just let things happen and go on with your life. But, I believe that we will be better off for choosing to learn something from life’s teaching moments. The picture above is something not often seen anymore. Most schools are now filled with whiteboards instead of chalkboards. I love how this photo displays the multiple eraser marks. To me, it tells a story that there has been effort. There wasn’t just one thing erased and changed, but time after time, things changed, hopefully for the better.

How does this apply to flute playing? Sometimes we have a perfect performance or nearly perfect performance and we feel awesome. But other times, performances or auditions don’t go as planned. We knew we could have played “that passage” better. Or, as my students often say, “I played it fine when I was at home.” Yes, things don’t always go as planned. That doesn’t mean you have failed. It just means that there is an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to strive for a different form of effort.

Whenever I was about to perform a solo recital while in college, my teacher, Dr. Ted Wight, would remind me that sometimes it’s not the final product that is the most important, but rather all of the growth that took place in order to even get to that point in the first place. Think of the hours, days, weeks, and even months of practicing to prepare for a performance or audition. Sure, we all want the final outcome to reflect our hard work and have a great performance. But, sometimes, that just doesn’t happen.

You’ve probably heard the phrase that goes something like this, “You only fail if you stop trying.” In his efforts to create an incandescent lightbulb, Thomas Edison is attributed to saying that he didn’t fail, he just found thousands of ways that didn’t work.

So, whatever your challenge is, don’t let opportunities for growth pass you by. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” I guarantee there is an answer.

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