A Phrase To Remember When You Make A Mistake

Hey, there!

Over the course of the last few days (as I write this), I made a silly, stupid mistake that has put me behind schedule by a few days. It was completely avoidable, but I made it anyway.

And it reminded me of two things: that I am human, and something else.

That mistakes can be very, very valuable.

People make mistakes every day, and VO artists are certainly no exception.

Nor am I. Clearly.

To make a long story short, I was upgrading my rotating data backup system (which I describe how to replicate here), introducing 4 terabyte drives to replace the older 2 terabyte drives in my rotating set of backups, and I managed to format the very drive I use to store all my work instead of the new backup drive. All data on that hard drive was gone in an instant.

I then compounded the error with lovely, lovely, defiant hubris.

Still not understanding that I had made a mistake, and fuming that Disk Utility was calling what I thought was clearly a 4 terabyte drive a 2, I started writing an angry return-and-refund letter to Amazon about how a 2 TB drive was somehow packaged in a box clearly labeled 4 TB…and then, I suddenly realized what had happened.

I had simply selected the wrong drive to format. The names of all the drives looked very similar in the list of options in Disk Utility, and I had simply chosen the wrong one. The worst possibly choice, wrong nonetheless.

Simple, human error.

Oh, and all my data was gone. That happened.

(Not to worry – I had 3 other backup drives from which to restore my data.)

I immediately started to analyze why I’d made this mistake, while I was setting up Time Machine to restore the data from one of the other backup drives, going over the environment in which I was working, noting that I had been somewhat distracted by the latest episode of Mr. Robot, etc.

And I came to the inevitable conclusion, once again, that I, like everyone else on this planet, is simply human. And it was borne out by a statement made by Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson after he, too, made a stupid mistake, after answering a question from a reporter incorrectly:


It reminded me that life happens, things happen, mistakes happen, and not to beat myself up about it, but to go about finding a solution that fixes the problem, gain knowledge that makes me better prepared, and helps avoid that mistake and others of its ilk in the future.

And that’s the hidden advantage to making a mistake – the educational value of learning what most certainly doesn’t work.

And, the bigger the mistake, the better. The more brightly your mistake (and its correction) shine, the more likely it is that you can drop that into the category of “what doesn’t work.”

(I’ve mentioned it here before, but my definition of success, and what we base all of the VO2GoGo curriculum on, is doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.)

So, the next time you’re trying to do something crucial with technology but you’re momentarily distracted by fantastic entertainment, you’ll know to switch off the TV and remove that distraction, and concentrate on what you’re doing.

Apply this rule every time you realize you’ve made a mistake, and you’ll profit immensely from the education you receive.

Don’t beat yourself up for simply being human.

Hope this helps.


6 Responses to A Phrase To Remember When You Make A Mistake

  1. Jess September 9, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    Great advice! David, are you a libertarian?

    • David H. Lawrence XVII September 9, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

      I am an objectivist, which, by definition, greatly overlaps libertarians. And that’s where this political moment will end, lest people start asking questions and/or making statements not appropriate for a voice over training site. :-)

  2. Justin S Barrett September 9, 2016 at 8:02 am #

    “Don’t beat yourself up for simply being human.”

    Or anyone else, for that matter. Sometimes we may have no problem forgiving ourselves, but then turn around and hold others to extremely high — and in some cases, unreasonable — standards. Forgiving ourselves for making simple mistakes is important. It’s equally important to forgive others when the same thing happens to them.

  3. Dale September 9, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    Well said.

  4. Matilda Novak September 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    Amen to all you wrote here, David — and to the comments posted as well.
    Thank you, for a very worthwhile reminder.

  5. Emma September 9, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    This is also a great reminder that redundancy cannot be underestimated! Thanks for sharing so candidly, and letting us all benefit!

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