Periscope Depth

when they grip the mic, it’s like, come on kids, let’s say good night

One thing I’ve learned from teaching jiu-jitsu is that telling someone not to make mistakes doesn’t help.

Nobody wants to make mistakes. That’s why they’re called “mistakes.” People approach their work with different levels of engagement. Some are quiet and diligent, some are loud and enthusiastic, and some just want to get through the day and go home to their families. But nobody wants to make mistakes.

And if someone’s new enough to a skill, they probably don’t know that what they’re doing is a mistake. This is especially true with jiu-jitsu. Wrist locks are not intuitive. Applying a nidan wrist submission requires tightening the victim’s forearm and torquing the wrist through a couple of different angles. Getting it at all is tricky. Getting it in a way such that the opponent can’t pull out of it is even harder. And once you’ve mastered it, it’s even harder to explain the principles behind it.

If a student is frustrated with a nidan, the worst thing I can say to them is, “No. Try again.” Or even worse, “That was okay; just iron some of the mistakes out.” I need to tell them what they’ve done wrong and how they can correct it. The best way to do this is to watch them do the technique all the way through. I’ve taught jiu-jitsu for long enough that I can usually anticipate what the error’s going to be – incorrect angles in the wrist, trying to leverage the wrist lock from the wrong angle, improper grip – and have a correction in mind. And if I don’t know already, I can puzzle through it with them.

This sounds obvious in jiu-jitsu. Bbut I still hear and read about managers whose idea of correcting a direct report is, “Keep an eye out for mistakes in your work.” Well, okay. What is the correction? What should the employee be doing different? Do they need to work slower? Do they need to allocate some time for QA? Do they need to write more things down as they hear them? A mistake can come from several different sources: inattention to detail, miscommunication between parties, typos, or the limits of human memory. Identifying the source of the mistake will lead to correction. Ignoring the source will lead to frustration.

This is one of those things that studying how to break wrists for a few hours a week will teach you.

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