After A Screw-Up, Evaluate What Happened.
Face Your Inevitable Mistakes And Learn
By Roxanne Coyne
Iíll never forget the day I drove away from the gas station with the pump still attached to my car.
There was a moment of shock, followed by the classic fight or flight reflex: If I drive off now, can I make a clean getaway?
I backed up and went inside and faced the music.
That was over 10 years ago and Iím still too ashamed to go back to that Arco station, which is just up the street from my house. Iím sure the owner has forgotten all about it, but I have not!
WHAT CAUSES WHOPPERS?
Have you ever made a huge mistake in your professional life? Ever wish you could hit the rewind button?
Over the years Iíve found that most of my mistakes are the result of one of two things:
"When I hire an assistant I always ask if theyíve ever flashed (accidentally exposed) a roll of film. If they say NO, I donít hire them."Why? I asked.
"Because," he said, "they are either lying, in which case you canít trust them, or they really havenít flashed a roll of film yet. If thatís the case then itís more likely to happen on your watch. Either way, you donít want that person anywhere near your set!"YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES
Be prepared to make every mistake ONCE.
Things we think of as Ďstupidí mistakes are not really stupid. They are part of a learning process, and should be viewed that way.
Have you had one of these experiences?
Lack of information may sound like a problem only affecting newcomers. Itís not. Thereís always something to learn.
Good communication with your clients is step one to being on top of things. Ask lots of questions, even if they seem silly. You might be surprised.
A few months ago I delivered raw audiobook tracks to an editor. I had marked my copy, as requested, but I had also used a clicker to make marks on the audio file every time I made a mistake in reading the copy.
I thought this would be a great help to the editor, who would be able to see my pickups right on the track.
I was wrong.
It turns out this particular team needed to master and normalize the tracks before editing the file. My clicker spikes messed up the whole process and ended up creating hours of extra work for the rest of the team. That was embarrassing.
The lesson? Communicate. Ask questions. Donít surprise people with innovations that you think are wonderful without getting clearance.
FACE MISTAKES - LEARN
Hereís what to keep in mind: You will probably make every mistake imaginable (hopefully, only once).
But donít run away. As hard as it is to eat humble pie, you need to face your error, make amends if possible, and vow to never let it happen again.
Own your mistakes as you own your victories.
After a screw-up, evaluate what happened:
After all, there are new mistakes waiting to be made every day!
Roxanne Coyne is a voice actress who learned many life lessons while she was a camera assistant. She flashed a roll of film on a movie set once when she locked herself in the darkroom and removed the film from the magazine with her eyes shut and the lights ON. Imagine explaining that one to the cinematographer, the director, the producer, the actors and the entire crew after a 14-hour day?
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