Why being "locked in" is rare

Hi friends,

Becoming a better singer (or better programmer or poker player!) is only partially about quality practice and a great teacher.

There are a few X factors in the learning process of a creative skill that feel quite mysterious. I’d like to demystify, for starters, one of the most common.

Some days, the stars align, and everything just feels good. It feels like somebody unlocked something inside you! Everything feels lined up, you are able to do radically more than you could the day before! But the next day you try again, and… it’s all tough. Once more. Ugh. We’re back to feeling stuck. That wonderful day was just a one-off…

😤 This frustrating experience is common across disciplines

Some days you’re locked in, but they’re rare, and most students are confused as to why these days happen. And after these “random” Blessed Days slip into the past, they’re quickly categorized as anomalies and forgotten.

I want to share the factor I teach my students to dramatically increase the frequency of those Blessed Days. And by doing so, help you unlock a much shorter learning curve.

The factor is this: deliberately design your own personal mistake-welcoming environment

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a couple of dozen choir programs, sometimes as a singer, accompanist, or director. The great conductors I witnessed did something it took me a little while to notice: they made each person feel special, wanted, and needed. This affected their personal experience deeply.

The second thing the great conductors did was not just tolerate mistakes, but encourage them, ask for more of them, laughtogether about them, and to take far more risks that were likely to create even more mistakes!

It is extraordinarily easy to participate in an environment like that: because it’s fun! And it’s meaningful. And it’s kind. And your mistakes aren’t stopping points; they’re launchpads. Not to mention:

📈You will find yourself growing rapidly

But the high-impact trick is this: doing it for yourself. Designing a mistake-welcoming environment for your own internal, personal world.

I’ve met few people who have a naturally positive inner narrative. We’re biologically hardwired for a 7:1 negativity to positivity ratio, so it’s hard work for any of us to rescript that train of thought.

But what if I told you that your external environment affects your learning capacity, pace, and retention? (You can search PubMedfor the science on learning environment to go deeper.) And your internal environment even more?

Or just think back in your life: did great teachers who crafted mistake-encouraging environments stimulate great learning moments for you?

Think of that favorite teacher from when you were young, who has a special place in your heart, who changed your inner life. Think of the learning environment they crafted for you.

Then: do it for yourself. (This is tough. It is also an “unlock” that accelerates learning big time, so it’s worth the effort.)

Don’t wait for someone else to design a mistake-welcoming environment

Do it for yourself, to unlock a rapidly shortened learning curve.

Have a wonderful week!


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✍️ Quote of the Week

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

April 25, 2023