Mistake Ritual

Mistake Ritual

I was just listening to a panel discussion about effective behaviors of people who coach sports. The panelists said a whole bunch of interesting things about discipline and motivation. I was most struck by one man’s advice to teach kids (people) to have a mistake strategy or mistake ritual.

After a player makes a mistake, if they have no prepared strategy for moving beyond the mistake, it’s human nature to focus on the mistake and beat yourself up. This goes for not only the person who made the mistake but also for the teammates. Being agitated about the error takes you out of the current moment. So that player who is upset about a mistake is distracted and not playing well in the minutes of the game following the error.

The coach taught the kids to “flush it.” As in, what do you do with something that stinks? That last play was a stinker. Let’s flush it away, forget about it and move on.

He found giving the kids an action to do was the key to getting them to switch gears. He coaches 11 year olds. I can just imagine a bunch of 11 year olds applying the “flush it” ritual to a mistake on the field: squatting, making bathroom noises, etc. And then with smiling faces, moving on to focus on the next play.

It made me think about how true this is for daily life. The sooner we “flush it,” the sooner we can move on and do our best in the next challenge of the day. When you focus on the good and the cool and the happy, you feel so much happier and more content, more Smiley!

Resist defining your day by the small inconveniences or even by the big bummers. And while we’re at it, remember small inconveniences are just that, small. Keep them that way by not giving them a second thought.

Smile. Be happy. And flush it.


Toilet Smiley


Ruth Kaiser

Ruth Kaiser is a preschool teacher, TED Talk speaker, children's author, AND the creator of the popular online art project SpontaneousSmiley.com where thousands of people find, photograph and share Smiley Faces they find in everyday objects.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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