a newer one »The Pink Palace

Letters to My Children: Have a Short Term Memory

Book page

Okay, look, you're going to make mistakes. They're going to happen, they're a part of life. Mistakes are part of the learning process: you try something, it might work, it might not. When it works, you learn something. When it doesn't work, you learn something else. As the quote says, "If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough."

However, how you react to your mistakes, and what you learn from them, is more important than the mistake itself. Yes, yes, I know, this is the same theme you've heard before. I'm going to say it again.

Mistakes are going to happen, okay? When they do, and you've corrected the mistake as best you can, learned the lesson you're going to learn from the mistake, the best thing you can do is have a short term memory of that mistake.

Which is not to say, "forget the lesson." Instead, remember the lesson and forget the mistake.

So you missed that catch. Remember the lesson to watch the ball into your hands. Remember the lesson to position yourself in the line of trajectory so that you're facing the ball to minimize the difficulty of the catch. Remember the lesson to clench and secure the ball. Okay, okay, I'm kidding on that one, you know that part.

Once you've remembered your lessons, forget that missed catch, forget that mistake. Remembering that incomplete catch, replaying the miss over and over again in your head will not change the outcome. You won't suddenly catch the missed ball. What it might do, however, is imprint the incorrect actions for the next time. It may adversely affect the next catch.

Beating yourself up over with a mistake on infinite replay does nothing but waste energy and distract you from what is happening next. What good is that?

So, you made a mistake. Whatever. Short term memory: forget that mistake. You have another ball to catch.