VLADIMIR KRYLOV

Mistakes

Why do we have to make mistakes and why is it good for us
A person, who never made mistakes, never tried anything new, said Einstein once (and so did a dozen of relatively famous people before him, including a couple of presidents and a number of writers).

I work as a software test engineer so errors and mistakes are what provides me income, a piece of bread, some butter and a little caviar. Errors and mistakes and working with them are my activity field, and who can understand it better than me how extremely right good old Einstein and the others were.

To tell you the truth, I can't say that I've visited all the lessons of every tango-teacher in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and certainly I haven't felt all the power of Argentinean teaching, but at those lessons where I've been the maximum that I've ever heard from the teachers about mistakes was just the statement "don't be afraid to be wrong."
This does not satisfy me, for two reasons.
First, this statement is wrong, it's like saying "do not hesitate to take money for your work". It seems like both phrases are quite correct. However, one gets the feeling that in the speaker's opinion they both imply that mistakes are bad no matter what and that taking money for the work is a little bit dishonest or improper (especially speaking about friends and relatives) but you should overcome this sense of discomfort. I don't like these negative connotations and implied sense at all, so I would rephrase these two statements as follows: "It's crucial for you to make mistakes" and "Take money for your work."
Perhaps somewhere there really exist unique individuals able to do something new immediately, but I haven't met such people
Second, this is not enough. We are always being taught how to do things right and also we are always being told that there is some local ideal which we should strive to reach. We are always told that we should achieve the similar results as other people acting in identical conditions. However, equal conditions do not exist, that's the problem. Ideals differ from person to person, and the ways of achieving them can shock even the most experienced and seasoned systematizer. This can be attributed even to such an idealized subject as mathematics, let alone tango, where everyone has their own set of beliefs that affect their brain and body.
'You have to make mistakes' – and then a lot of questions arise immediately.
For example, the question 'What for?'. There may be many answers to this question, but the main idea, I think, is that mistakes will happen in your real life anyway. Perhaps somewhere in the world there really exist unique individuals that can do something new immediately and accurately without any mistake. Fortunately I haven't met such people; otherwise I would have lost my job. So people will make mistakes anyway. In our culture mistakes are counted as an absolute evil. Thus people will blame themselves for making mistakes and for the fact that something it's not working out and in the end they can even quit classes since no positive reinforcement is enough to neutralize the pain of their mistakes and failures. On the contrary, if you set a goal 'to make mistakes on your way to perfection', the effect will be quite different. Of course, it is unlikely that everyone will believe in such a formula from the first time, but there can be some difference if it is regularly repeated.

In addition, this is not only about accepting your own mistakes. Allowing yourself to be imperfect helps you to learn how to treat other people in the same way and to understand that they are not perfect as well. Isn't it logical?Sometimes the capacity to build such logical connections makes some difficulties for us and thus we need teachers to guide us in the right way.
Allowing yourself to be imperfect helps you to learn how to treat other people in the same way
People make mistakes. And no, it's not a unique case. They make mistakes again and again. You have definitely noticed at least several mistakes of others, haven't you? A key principle of any system is that the system is not perfect, but is always compared to the ideal. So it is logical to assume that there must or at least can be some deviations or mistakes in it.

By allowing someone to make mistakes we can focus on what is really important to us. If you need to learn some new dance combination of steps and moves during a class and your partner doesn't seem to be perfect – it's great! Because in real life on a milonga you will certainly dance with another not perfect partner. So it's good for you because when you finally learn how to dance this combination with your not perfect partner you will be far more confident with the others on milonga.

We have absolutely no culture of dealing with mistakes. More precisely, the dominant point of view in our society says that mistakes should not exist. A lot of resources are spent to monitor bugs, errors and mistakes and to react to them. And since the errors are treated as a negative phenomenon so the reaction to them corresponds to the well-known model of accepting death by Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and at the end acceptance.

We can try to skip all the negative stages and come directly to acceptance. It might liberate us and release from the guilt for being ourselves and being not perfect and far from perfection and the ideal we imagine or someone dictates us to be.

And if earlier after making any mistake you immediately found yourself drowning in negative emotions, it is now possible to notice a mistake and start thinking instead. Is it a real mistake? If it is, does it affect somehow your current goals? If it does, is the impact huge? If it is huge, what can you do in this case?
Suddenly you may realize that what you believed to be a mistake is not actually a mistake.
This often happens when you work with people because then we face two or more different visions of a perfect world. For example, I think it's okay for a woman to step on her partner's foot during the dance. I have even seen a very beautiful dance combination where woman is supposed to step on partner's shoes, not on the floor. The majority of girls think it's a mistake, say "sorry" a million times and do everything possible to get as far as they can from this treacherous partner's shoe that has just demonstrated their non-ideality. Nevertheless, the idea that it is painful for a partner is not totally true, because in reality it doesn't always hurt so much (if you don't believe me just ask someone who has the same constitutional type as you to step on your shoe and test how it feels).

You may find even more surprising the fact that the mistake that causes you to cry day and night and to discuss it with the eminent professionals in fact is not worth worrying. Moreover, you are the only person who has noticed it and other people pay attention to it only after being told that there is a mistake happened.
Suddenly you may realize that the mistake which could spoil your mood the whole day can easily be transformed into something else
Suddenly you may realize that the mistake which could spoil your mood the whole day can easily be transformed into something else or corrected in a simple way. If I had wept about every mistake I had committed on the dancefloor, then I would have already cried my eyes out after the first tanda, because I've certainly made no perfect step in my life.

And finally, when it becomes obvious that what you believed to be a mistake actually is a real mistake and it is really worth correcting, then the question is not "who is guilty?" or "why was I born such a fool?" or "why me, oh Lord, grant me an easy death". The question is
'what can I do in order to avoid such things in the future?'
And finally, as a bonus, when you already learn how to do something, mistakes and other unexpected difficulties are your only way to self-improvement, because the existence of such things shows you the scenarios that you have not foreseen. And when you discover them you can discover a new unexpected world and change your way of acting according to this new world.

Well, guys, don't hesitate to make mistakes because our whole life's essence consists in not matching the ideal.
Author: Vladimir Krylov. Translation: Dunya Valova.
Opinions expressed in articles within this blog may not coincide with those of the editor.
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