Play (or sing) Through Your Mistakes

From the desk of Kelsey Buell,

We all have that thing, right? 

That passion we had growing up, that maybe never went away? 

Whether it was sports, mathematics, the arts, our passions are what keep us alive.

I was singing before I could talk and dancing before I could walk. 

When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would always say “A movie star.” or “A professional singer.” 

Then I started to learn the violin when I was 7.  

My teacher was named Mary Anne Kohls. She was jovial woman, always had the biggest laugh. I mean – the loudest laugh I had ever heard. 

Yet, she also was very tough. 

One of the things she would always get so upset with me for was this…

I’m playing a song and I’m maybe even halfway through, and all of a sudden I play a big fat wrong note. 

The second I play that wrong note,  I would get upset with myself. Take a deep sigh. And go back to the beginning and start over. 

“You can’t do that!” she would say. But to me, messing up meant I had to fix it. It meant I was a failure. It meant, I had hit a stoplight.


The stoplight is a metaphor for the things in life that make us feel stuck. 

For me and my music playing, the stoplight was constant. I was always trying to fix my mistakes instead of just driving right through them. 

Now, literally speaking, you cannot run a stoplight. We all know that. But in life, we need to figure out how to stop seeing our mistakes as stoplights.

If you always see your mistakes as stoplights, and allow them to ruin your motivation to keep going, you will always feel a sense of paralysis. 


I still love to sing, especially the national anthem. I often get asked, “Do you ever mess up the words?” “No.” I scoff. 

Because of course, I’m perfect. (ha ha. NOT) 

So…exactly two years ago, January 2019, I was asked to sing the national anthem for the NCAA regional hockey tournament being held at the Scheels arena here in Fargo.

I remember stepping out onto the ice, raising my microphone to my mouth, and starting to sing the first few words of the anthem. All of a sudden, my mind went completely blank. 

I was at the part where it goes “Oe’r the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming” and it went more like…. “Oe’r the ramparts we watched were la la la la la la. And the rockets red glare.”

I asked every person I had the chance to visit with afterwards if they noticed my mistake.

I don’t know if too many people were afraid to tell me the truth, but the closest I got to a “yes” answer was from my friend Eric who said “I thought I heard something a bit funny happen, but wasn’t sure.” 

I use the acronym “ARGH,” kind of like a pirate says, to help me “play through my mistakes” or you could say….sing through my mistakes.

  • A is for accept. Accepting the mistake(s) for what it is, is the first step.
  • R is for release. Let it go! Brush it off your shoulders. You may even want to “physically” shake it off.
  • G is for grow. Everytime you mess up, recognize that you grow. Your best stories will stem from your challenges. Get outside your comfort zone. Keep going. Keep growing.
  • H is for heal. After making a mistake, it’s often easy to rebound quick, but then you might think about it again and start feeling down again. Remember that it takes time to get over it sometimes, but you eventually will heal.

Growth and comfort cannot co-exist. Live outside your comfort zone by remembering to argh…..

But wait, there’s more good news…!

You are NOT alone.

If you struggle with rebounding from making mistakes, and are a bit of a perfectionist, we have a program for you.

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Without feeling like you’re being judged or a failure….Sound exciting?

Apply for our Resilience Multiplier Course today! 

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This program is NOT for everyone. We want positive, motivated, doers who are coachable and ready to make some life changes.

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