Life is a harsh teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.
Every once in a while I mention my 12-year-old daughter in my blogs. (You can check out some earlier ones here, here and here.) As we travel along this unknowable journey called life we have a number of successes and failures. As an adult it is easier to see both as “lessons” but to a child or young adult it’s not so clear that there is a lesson inside the experience. Sometimes it just hurts.
Stephanie has been playing and studying the violin since she was six years old and has done extremely well, passing her Grade 8 violin exam with distinction when she was ten and has even played a very difficult violin solo (Sarasate’s Ziegenerweissen: Gypsy Airs) in front of 1500 people. And recently she won an internal competition at the Royal College of Music Junior Department.
Naturally she was pretty high from these experiences. We talked about the lessons learned and she came to the conclusion that practice improves confidence and confidence improves your ability to perform at a high standard. Okay, so much for the positive lessons. They tend to be the easy ones.
Throughout her six years of playing the violin she has been plagued with intonation challenges. What that means is that the notes are not quite on center when she presses her finger down on the strings running along the neck (fingerboard) of the violin. Thus the note is slightly out of tune. Good intonation is the lifelong challenge of all violinists and a constant struggle.
She recently had a consultation with a highly recommended violin teacher and heard words she really didn’t want to hear. Her bow hand wrist is too stiff and her fingering hand collapses, thus significantly impacting intonation. To fix this technical flaw in her playing requires some remedial work on scales, specific studies and a few classical pieces that require the proper techniques she is currently missing.
Well, the world came crashing down. I can’t think of another person I know who hasn’t had at least one similar highly disappointing experience. You thought you were making excellent progress only to learn you were moving towards a dead-end and needed to back up and take a different path.
The real question is, are these failures or learning opportunities?
It is easy to sit here and say that of course it is a learning opportunity. Try telling that to a sobbing 12-year-old!
We are not certain what the best approach to this situation is but for now we have decided that love, support and encouragement, as well as time for her to sort it out herself, seems to be the best path.
As an individual how do you handle setbacks? As a parent? And as a business executive how do you handle the setbacks of poor performance from your staff or company?
I have a feeling the solution might be the same in all cases.
Tight Lines . . .
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