Fix-It-Focused Practice: When Your Plane Crashes, Get Out the Wreckage!

Previously in Hunter sums up “The Straight-A Conspiracy,” we talked about how you reading this PROVES you can learn anything. We know you have the ability to automate things ’cause you automated reading. You can make habits. And anything from math to computer programming to analyzing Shakespeare to speaking Arabic to going to every single one of Bryan Callen’s stand up shows can be made a habit. This last habit is the most important for any member of the #Callenphate. One must be repeatedly exposed to the works of Imam Callen to appreciate that he has ALL the answers.

However, what about when you’re not in the presence of #TheGreatOne. Well, there are still things you can be doing to improve your life and serve the greater glory of the #Callenphate. Namely, you can embrace your mistakes and learn from them. If you read the work of Anders Ericsson who studies how people become experts, you’ll find that it all comes down to one big thing: deliberate practice. In The Straight-A Conspiracy, Katie O and I call it Fix-It-Focused Practice because we wanted to make it as freaking obvious as possible what that meant. You are focused on fixing it. It doesn’t matter what “it” is. If it’s not working, you fix it. You run across a word you don’t know you look it up. You make even one mistake on a test, you fix it. Of course, the work is to figure out WHY that mistake happened. That’s the real challenge. Just ask the FAA or Federal Aviation Administration. When a plane crashes, everyone knows a mistake happened. The question is WHY the mistake happened. Planes are complicated. There are a million things that could have gone wrong. Which one caused this crash and what can we do to make sure this TYPE of crash never happens again.

See those folks walking through the wreckage of that plane crash. They’re having to look at the most emotionally uncomfortable mistakes imaginable. Mistakes where people DIED. Hundreds of them. And yet, they know if they don’t learn from those mistakes more people will die. So, organizations like the FAA have learned that it’s way better to go in there and investigate any mistake right away the moment it happens.

In the end, they come to understand that everything comes down to process. It comes down to habits. If pilots and air traffic controllers and flight crews have good habits, things run smoothly and safely. And if there’s a crash, then something is off with the process. That means a mistake is actually a HUGE OPPORTUNITY to save lots of lives in the future. You just found out something is off about your process. Now, you find out what and you tweak. Maybe you institute a new checklist or you don’t let planes fly under those conditions or you now start testing planes for metal fatigue. Take, for example, Aloha 243. It experienced explosive decompression. Part of the fuselage ripped away in midair and a flight attendant went flying out of the plane.

What happened? Metal fatigue. Yep. The metal got tiiiiiiired from salt exposure and the safety checks in place weren’t sufficient. So, the FAA changed the procedures. Tragedies happen. The real tragedy is not learning from them to prevent future tragedies. Same with any mistake or failure.

Whether you’re a chef, a pilot, a doctor, a student, a stay-at-home parent, there’s something liberating here: it’s not you; it’s what you do. You are fine. You have the ability to acquire habits. Your automaticity works. The question is what habits have you acquired and how can we USE mistakes to train better ones. Well, that’s exactly what Bryan Callen is going to teach you. No one is perfect…except for Bryan Callen. And that’s why you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You’re just not Bryan Callen. Will your awe for him cause you to try and emulate him? YES!!! Will you repeatedly fall short? YES!!! That’s okay. He forgives you! (Especially if you come to ALL his stand up shows…)

However, you may not feeeeeeeel like looking at your mistakes. You may feeeeeeeel stupid when you make a mistake. And that’s why we have to take a look at what the feeeeeeeling of stupid is.

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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