The Power of Turning Mistakes into Opportunities: Lessons from Miles Davis


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 22, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Turning Mistakes into Opportunities: Lessons from Miles Davis


Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Whether it's in music or any other field, we all make errors at some point. However, what sets successful individuals apart is their ability to turn these mistakes into opportunities for growth and improvement. In a captivating story about his experience with jazz legend Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock shares a valuable lesson about embracing mistakes and finding the beauty in unexpected moments.

The Story of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis:

During a performance, Herbie Hancock found himself playing the wrong chord right in the middle of Miles Davis' incredible solo. The mistake was glaringly obvious, and Hancock immediately felt the weight of his blunder. However, instead of getting flustered, he observed Miles' reaction. To his surprise, Miles paused briefly and then played a series of notes that miraculously made Hancock's incorrect chord sound right.

Insights from the Story:

1. Embrace the Unexpected:

Miles Davis' response to Hancock's mistake highlights the importance of embracing the unexpected. Rather than viewing the mistake as a failure, Miles saw it as an event, a part of the reality unfolding in that moment. This mindset allowed him to respond creatively and find a way to make the situation work. In life, we often encounter unexpected challenges or obstacles. By adopting a similar attitude, we can transform setbacks into opportunities for innovation and growth.

2. Open-Mindedness:

Hancock learned a significant lesson from Miles Davis that day - the value of having an open mind. It is easy to become rigid in our expectations and desire for things to go according to plan. However, growth and progress can only happen when we are open to accepting situations as they are. By cultivating an open mind, we can approach challenges with a willingness to learn, adapt, and find creative solutions.

3. Turning Poison into Medicine:

Miles Davis' ability to turn the mistake into something beautiful teaches us the importance of transforming adversity into opportunity. Life presents us with both positive and negative circumstances. While it may be tempting to dwell on the negative, we have the power to reframe our experiences and make something constructive out of them. This concept of turning poison into medicine is a powerful tool for personal and professional development.

Actionable Advice:

1. Embrace Imperfections:

Next time you make a mistake, whether it's in your professional or personal life, embrace it as an opportunity for growth. Rather than dwelling on the error, focus on what you can learn from it and how it can contribute to your development.

2. Cultivate Open-Mindedness:

Challenge yourself to approach situations with an open mind. Be receptive to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. This mindset will enable you to adapt to unexpected circumstances and find creative solutions.

3. Reframe Adversity:

When faced with adversity, consciously choose to reframe it as an opportunity. Look for the lessons or hidden benefits within challenging situations and use them as stepping stones for personal and professional growth.


Herbie Hancock's experience with Miles Davis serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of mistakes. By embracing unexpected events, cultivating open-mindedness, and turning adversity into opportunity, we can navigate the ups and downs of life with resilience and grace. So, the next time you find yourself faced with a mistake or setback, remember Miles Davis' wise words - turn the poison into medicine and make something constructive happen.

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