The Correct Mindset to Learn

Many people have poor habits that limit their growth and impede's their learning. This article addresses poor mindsets and people's common outlook towards mistakes. Then it address the way you should view a mistake.

Ultimate Guitar

Today's world is competitive. No matter what you do, people are comparing and judging. Who scored better on this test? Who's the faster runner? Who's stronger, who works harder or who gets paid the most?

Some people work hard to find faults in others. Maybe it's to make themselves feel better, or maybe it's because they don't want to believe someone worked harder, studied more and is better.

Probably a mix of both.

Every human is judgmental, it's unavoidable. By judging, we determine how we should act in a certain situation. By seeing the consequences of other people's actions, we determine how we want to live. By simply making a decision, you have made some sort of judgment.

It's woven in to the very fiber of our beings. It can be tracked all the way back to the years humans lived as tribes. If you were better, you were more important. If you fit in, you get to stay in the tribe. So people judge with the subconscious objective of raising themselves above their peers.

This self posturing to build one's self esteem and importance has many symptoms. Two of them impede the learning process. One, it spawns perfectionists, a being so consumed by the thoughts of others that they never get anything done because they can't stand someone critiquing them. The second symptom is quitters. Quitters, give up when they don't succeed right away.

Fortunately, like I previously stated, these are only symptoms. Symptoms that can be fixed by treating the illness:

A person's mindset.

If allowed to run rampant, a poor mindset destroys any chance at success or happiness you could have. A poor mindset creates frustration, depression, burnout and many other problems.

The aspect of mindset that I want to address in this article is society perceives mistakes. More specifically, each person's frustration or fear of mistakes and failure.

When you make a mistake how do you feel? What actions do you take after you make a mistake? Take some time to think about this before continuing to read this article. Again, what do you feel, do or think about when you make a mistake or fail?

First let's address how you probably feel. You may get frustrated, angry or upset. Your level of anger depends on the importance you give to your failure or your mistake, but there aren't any happy feelings.

The emotions that come with failure are detrimental when you're attempting to learn an instrument. It slows your progress, keeps your goals out of reach and makes learning unenjoyable. It will quickly burn you out and destroy your passion.

When you stop enjoying the learning process, chances are you will end up giving up on your goals and dreams.

This is more true in today's society, where everyone craves instant gratification. The longer it takes to learn and the more unendurable the process, the quicker people will quit.

In order to cure this problem, all you have to do is enjoy the process of learning. What's preventing you from enjoying the process?

Your answer: All the mistakes and struggling.

My answer: Your thought process when you struggle.

From now on this is how I want you to think, act and feel when you are unable to do something correctly.

You should be excited when you can't do something correctly.

This sounds odd, I know. Why would you be happy when you mess something up or fail at something?

You should feel happy because you have identified an area you can improve in. Congratulations! You now know what to work on in order to become a better player!

Now to address the second part of the initial question: what do you think about when you make a mistake? You probably think about the mistake you just made.

A good example is when a beginner tries to play a basic G chord on a guitar. In most cases the beginner struggles to get all the strings to ring out properly. So what do they do? They get frustrated and they keep playing the G chord until all those strings ring out.

They keep thinking only about those strings ringing out. They're so focused on the symptom that they can't find the actual cause of their problem. If you only focus on the symptom, you will continue to play it wrong, the same way and get frustrated.

If you diagnose the problem, you can find the cause. Then you can apply exercises and other tools to fix the real problem. The symptoms will disappear and you will be one step closer to achieving your goals, all because you focused on finding the cause and developing solutions. This is how you will succeed in reaching your goals.

The following words of wisdom helped me when I was learning both guitar and voice:

Do NOT focus on the sound. Focusing on the sound will set you up for failure and disappointment. Focus on how your playing or singing feels. That is where you will find your real problems

You do not need to be perfect right now. What you need to do, is wake up every morning with the intention of bettering yourself. These days will add up and in no time you be or have exactly what you wanted.

The only time you should ever be upset is when you can't find a mistake because this means you have no idea how to improve. You're stuck in a plateau and don't know how to get out. That's when you should be angry.

Which brings me to my final point.

Diagnosing a specific problem in your playing can be a process of guess and check, if you're trying to teach yourself. This doesn't mean you won't improve, but chances are your progress will be at a much slower pace.

Your best option is to find a specialist who already knows how to cure the symptoms you're facing. This is true for anything. Guitar, voice, cooking, sports and even building a business.

If you're trying to learn guitar or voice by yourself my suggestion is this:

Keep in mind that playing an instrument shouldn't be forced or contrived. When you've mastered it, it should feel second nature. If it isn't, you can't focus on the music you're creating.

In order to diagnose the cause of your problem, ask yourself this question:

What am I thinking about right now?

Whatever you're thinking about is probably the area you need to work on.

Here's an example, once more on the subject of basic chords.

If you attempted to play the G chord correctly and failed to do so, you probably thought about playing that chord or focusing on where your fingers need to be on the fret board. Because you needed to think about it, you haven't mastered that chord shape yet. If you can master that chord shape, you will be one step closer to achieving your goals.

That was only a symptom we deduced.

If you're trying to find the cause that's where the guess and check comes in and where a teacher can be helpful. They already know the causes of your symptoms and how to fix them. If you have the means to, go find yourself a teacher. If you are teaching yourself, it's a matter of changing certain things you're doing to figure out what the actual cause is and then trying to come up with an exercise to help you fix this problem.

About the Author:By Chris Glyde.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    0ld H1pp1e
    The only "mistake" is giving up and not trying. You have to give yourself plenty of permission to sound awful at first. Never be afraid to try something because it MIGHT sound bad. Discovering what sounds bad is actually instructive.