I’ve read – over and over and over – that it’s important to carry on learning. I agree. Learning from your mistakes is better than fretting over them, worrying or just feeling guilty…

Of course, that’s easier said than done!

It’s human nature to worry about what went wrong and to compare ourselves to other people or (worse) compare ourselves to the fictionalised, apparently perfect, demi-god-like versions of other people. Comparison can be good, too – it helps us learn, to grow and improve.

The problem, it seems to me, lies in how we make those comparisons and how we learn.

If we have a system for learning it makes it easier.  Instead of just fretting over what we did wrong and saying to ourselves “Must do better next time”, if we have a process for how we plan to “do better next time” we can take those actions and close down the worry, knowing that we’ve learned what we can.

We use two systems here, which might be useful for people.  The first is our simply Ties and Flies lists and the second is the Rolfe methodology.

Ties and Flies is the generic name we give to all our preparation checklists. They got this name because the first one we created was called this – and in turn the list got it’s name from the last item on the list… things we check before we go on stage to give a presentation! (There’s nothing going to undermine your confidence more on stage than wondering if your fastened your flies or if your tie is straight! 🙂 )

The thing that might need a bit more talking about is the Rolfe thing. We like to do a bit of self-reflection after every event, gig, training event, project, whatever, that we do. It’s easy to dwell on the negatives but having the Rolfe approach to give this reflection a structure is very helpful.

Essentially the Rolfe method consists of asking yourself the questions ‘what’ three times – or more specifically

  • what?
    What happened?  What is the incident of note that you’re interested in?  Did you forget to bring something? Was someone particularly interested in something? Did an attendee think the course started at a different time?
  • so what?
    What were the consequences of this? Were they significant and if so in what way? Were the consequences positive or negative?
  • now what?
    What can you do about the event? If it was a positive event/effect, how can you adjust your working to make it happen again? If it was a problem, how can you set up a system to stop it happening again?

We love it – not least because of its simplicity. Anything more complicated and we would resist using it after a long, hard training session! This is simplicity itself.  (Rolfe is now how our Ties and Flies lists get updates, for example.)

Speaking of examples, let’s work one through, using Rolfe.


A fuse blew

So what?

A data projector stopped working suddenly which means that a video the audience were watching suddenly vanished!  (And the life-expectancy of the projector’s lamp was also reduced).

Now what?

All our equipment has the correct spare fuse taped to the plug. It might not stop the fuse blowing but it means that we can replace it (with the right amp’d fuse) in the minimum time possible.

Nice, isn’t it! 🙂

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