What I’d like to share with you today is perhaps the most important skill we can possibly develop in life. We could call it a mindset, quality, trait, principle, or whatever… but frankly, I like to call it a skill. You’ll understand why shortly. You’ll also see why I am absolutely convinced that when we are engaged in developing this skill, it improves our lives dramatically – and it does so rather predictably. And yes, that includes your singing voice and your performance skills, but as you will see it goes way beyond that.

Let’s start off with some questions:

What is your response when your voice “breaks”?

What is your response when you don’t sound as good as you wish you could when you sing?

What is your response when you read something horrible in the newspaper? What is your response when you don’t get the audition, when someone treats you badly, when you get fired from a job, when you are stressed, when you have a bad day?

What is your response when you make a “mistake”, when you miss an appointment or arrive late, when you fail at something, or when things don’t go as well as you would like?

What is your response when someone else makes a mistake?

What is your response when you experience a health challenge? What is your response when you face a financial challenge?

I’m not talking about verbal and external responses here. I’m talking about how you respond within.

Let me share with you a transformative experience from my own life.

Have you ever gotten upset from getting a parking ticket? I have. Have you ever been in a situation where you arrive at your parked car just to see a traffic officer just starting to write a ticket? Have you ever gotten mad at that person? I have. Ever gotten livid? I have.

I was just 20 seconds late for crying out loud!!! I’m right here and about to leave!!! Have some heart!!!

I actually, didn’t express myself that way. Much of the reason was that I had my oldest son with me who was 3 years old at the time. Was I really going to resort to blaming and accusing another human being for my mistake? Was I really going to try and make excuses? Is that what I would teach my children?

I told my son that I had forgotten to put money in the meter and therefore will pay a fine. I had no anger in me. Although we were struggling financially at the time, I felt relieved. I went home and gladly wrote the check. From that day, I vowed to never blame anyone else for my mistakes. A mistake would always be a wonderful learning opportunity. This was not a new mindset for me, but this event took everything to a new level.

If you study human behavior, you will notice something very predictable when things aren’t going well for a human being.

I observe this with fascination among players, parents and coaches during my kid’s sports games. If it is an important game and things aren’t going well, at some point people will start venting their frustration. The referee will almost always be blamed. Many times the coach vents his frustration towards his players (depending on who the coach is). Some kids who make a mistake, have such a negative reaction to it that they begin making more and more mistakes. Some kids even start blaming other kids.

And bare in mind that these are nice ordinary people who just react and respond the way most humans do when things aren’t going well.

I have witnessed kids who have actually blamed a loss on a referee, and even blamed a team for cheating.

As long as this mindset prevails, this person will grow up feeling someone else is against him. He doesn’t understand the fear that lives within him. He will be a victim of external circumstances. He will blame “unluck” or “non-talent”, or he will blame other people, or the political system, or “the economy ”on his misfortune. He will never become a top athlete or successful in his life, because however much “talent” he has, he will never be able to perform well when the stakes are high and when it matters the most. He will not understand that the state of his mind and the state of his body is an accumulation of past years and decades of programming.

Nor will he discover how it is absolutely possible to release new abilities within him that could transform his life.

My kids don’t blame referees or other people. We just don’t do that. It is fascinating to see how this mindset and developed skill affects life in so many ways. At the age of 10, my youngest son has already become known for someone who is calm and cool and does exceptionally well under so-called “pressure.” Many people do not understand that this is also predictable. It is a result of training. It is a result of not being afraid of mistakes, and of not being judgmental about other people’s “mistakes.” It is a result of being confident in his abilities, and being able to be resourceful and focused when he is challenged.

As you may know, as as those who study with me know, my training goes beyond teaching someone how to sing better. My passion is to help and train people to become more empowered in many ways. This includes being able to empower your own mind and body for effective healing and rapid learning. This includes being able to acquire the advanced developed skill of being able to perform well and find solutions in “high-pressured” situations.

This includes being able to lead a life with greater confidence of one’s ability to respond to life’s challenges. This includes knowing what to do on a “bad day” to still come out a “winner” – to turn things around. This includes being able to give permission for “mistakes,” and therefore not needing to be afraid of making “mistakes.” This includes becoming resourceful and never needing to make excuses, or blame anyone else or outside circumstances.

When you become more empowered like this, you naturally also become more creative and productive. You find solutions when others resort to whining and complaining. You have no reason to beg or ask for handouts, but you are instead focused on what to do to become more skilled and valuable. You feel there is a purpose to waking up in the morning. You accept and embrace challenges in a different way that make you stronger and more able. Since you are less afraid of making “mistakes,” you are more willing to take “risks,” and can therefore confidently follow your dreams and passions and discover what you are truly capable of.

As you have noticed, I have avoided using the expression “take responsibility.” That has become a phrase that we tend to use to admonish people with, instead of understanding what it truly means.

I prefer to look at it as the “Ability To Respond.” This is, indeed, a developed skill in my mind. If I didn’t have that belief, I would once again be a victim and believe that the way I am is the way I am - that there is nothing I can do to change or improve. Yet we can absolutely develop this ability and we can develop it dramatically. The more advanced we become in our “ability to respond” – the more successful we become.

So it might be interesting to go back to the questions I asked in the beginning. Then become more aware of how you respond internally to various situations.

Please share below what you have done today to work on developing your “ability to respond” in more resourceful and empowering ways. Your ideas might help someone else.

About the author 


  • I have been singing all my life and performing a Broadway Review (the last show was a few years ago) Things happened in my life and I haven’t done the show for about 5 or 6 years. NOT A GOOD IDEA! Since then, my voice has changed because of lack of use. :(( In my quest to help my voice get better, I decided to join the church choir. My voice is not very good right now. (I am used to winning contests and trophies for my performances!) THIS IS SCARY FOR ME! Recently, my choir director from high school spent some time vacationing with my husband and I. (I was a dork in high school–that’s another story all together) I let him listen to one of my recordings and he said to me, “How did I miss you in high school? You are wonderful and you have perfect pitch!!” He was actually upset with himself! I explained to him about the circumstances of my life at the time and he couldn’t have done anything about it. I agree with you. Our life circumstances have a profound effect on everything….even our voices! He told me I could get my voice back by practicing every day! Of course, I am trying but right now it’s hard to listen to myself sing. I will try. I would really like my voice back!

  • As always, Per, you speak from the heart and make a lot of sense. It is easy to blame lack of education, help from others, time, money, etc. but, if you really want to improve, you will make the effort. No-one else can do it for you although it is nice to be guided. I have not visited your site recently because of other things going on but I will and I only have myself to blame that I have not done so sooner. I am, however, accepting of my lack of diligence at the moment!

  • I discovered your programme quite unexpectedly and at a time when I am under much pressure in my professionnal and personal life. As singing is my second passionIi must therefore make a greater effort to complete the programme and go beyond. I may not travel at the pace I had planned but I intend to benefit. Thank you.

  • Hi Per, Thanks a lot for this article. For the first time in my life I’m recording a cd and have a hard time. I have to sing the same song over and over again. Before recording I’m preparing the song at home but the person who’s recording thinks I’m not preparing anything. So, I’m making mistakes all the time and being criticized for that. Sometimes, I feel, I give up. Your article is helping me never to do so. I’m very grateful for that, Per. Love, Mara

  • Thanks Per for your article on “How do we respond when life challenges us with negativity?” I am going to suggest an emotion that I suspect many of us have been programmed with. And that emotion is “GUILT”! A feeling of guilt comes to me instinctively, that somehow I have done something wrong, or not measured up to my expectations, or someone else’s expectation !? This is more often that not an inappropriate feeling of guilt. Of course, I WOULD be guilty if I had done something wrong, but this is the opposite side of the spectrum of blaming someone else. Anyone else have a problem with this?

  • First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude for your dedication and inspiration. I always get that you are sharing from your heart, namaste Per.
    You have touched my life in so many ways. I was there, victim, martyr, and was so unhappy. When i started taking 100% accountability for my actions, my life turned around.
    I received your first 4 dvd’s as a christmas present, and at a time where I had the opportunity to participate in a “garage band”. You helped me get up on that stage and perform because I LOVE singing and because I love to share the joy I feel when I do, Recently, I have been going to jam sessions and singing my own written songs, and before I get up on stage, I always remind myself that this is the intention. If I make a mistake, if people laugh, then the intention is still met, to bring humour, joy and lightness to the world, and that I am not up there to be perfect, I am there to do my best, which in turn, is perfect 🙂
    The tool which has helped me the most in letting go of guilt, anger, judgement, shame, etc. has been “Gratitude”. To choose to be grateful for IT ALL… whatever it looks like, because I know it is only showing up in my experience as a beautiful opportunity to learn and grow.
    And yes, it’s a work in progress, as I will always be – the universe has too much to offer to ever stop learning. So thank you to all who have shared of yourselves – my teachers – I treasure you.

  • Thank you, you always have inspirational stories! I hope I will be able to participate in your programme some day.

  • Nicely written Per. I always marvel how the written language can be written in so many different ways. The way you wrote, Per, makes great sense to a lot of people and your insights are truly wonderful. I would certainly be interested to know where else you take this article. I look forward to part 2, God Bless.

  • This is so true. For as one thinks in their heart so is that individual. What I am learning to do in negative situations is to respond positive.this is not easily done, but we must reprogram our minds. If one constantly takes in negatives, u will live a trough life.

  • As I have shared with folks with whom I work,”we do the best we can within the circumstances we find ourselves” Their is a freedom and a freeing experience in saying these words. We are human, we fall down, we get up, we go on, we learn. Words are powerful, even those we say only to ourselves. A simple example is this one, say,”I got to go to work”, you can feel the weighing effect, excuse the grammar. Now change one letter, the o in got to an e,” I get to go to work”. One letter says and does o much. It says I am thankful for the circumstances that allow me the opportunity to work. The health, the training, the position, to have a job at all. In the ER were I work, I am often confronted with folks who say, “go home, it is a mad house in there”, I smile, remind them we will just do the best we can and then start singing a song to myself, sometimes loud enough for others to hear. It is transforming. It will be a long night, a tough night, but I sing, and smile, and refuse to fall victim to the soul draining negative outlook and then the sun rises.

  • It´s so true what you´re saying. I´m experiencing this right now as I am recovering from a divorce in the past year. At that time I came across this course, and it has given me lots of joy and something to pursue and improve. It has given me something to look forward to every day, and it has also given me more confidence. Even though I now am living alone and could have felt lonesome and discouraged, the opposite has happened. I´m OK being alone for the time being, because I have such an interesting life. And TSZ is one of the things making it fun and interesting and developing.

  • Tony Buzan meet the dalai Lama is what sprung to mind when I read you article Per!
    For the part 2 I suggest the following thread, life is not about right & wrong or mistakes, it’s about trial, trial, success. All we do is aim for a desired outcome, trial a method and observe the result. If the outcome is not as desired, we try another way. Until we succeed. Hope that the warden will be late, he is equipped with a portable computer which remind him which car to fine next, you have to pay. Nature of the contract. Next time you arrive 30 sec and smile at him, got you!

  • hey Per I think after reading the pages just now that it’s going to traNSFORM ME AND MY LIFE . HAPPY TO KNOW SOMEONE LIKE YOU . pUT’S me in a different clas and helps me and others grow as a persopn and will be able to learn more effectively. i have to believwe it will help many others to become people with character and it will rub off on o thers god bless Bob Irv89ne 87 .

  • Thank you, thank you. I love this reminder and the connection to singing. Thanks to you and Singing with Freedom, I can do something I haven’t been able to do for 50 years or more . . . hum and sing whenever I want to, even when life is stressful, what I’ve learned from you allows the voice to come out smoothly. . . . and when it doesn’t, its ok. Just go back and do it over, because it will the next time. And to think of this as an analogy for all of life. I can’t thank you enough. Blessings!

  • Thank you very much for the enlightenment Per.

    From now on I will start my important training in life-
    “Try not to pass the buck”.

  • Thank you, Per, just what I needed to tap into the strength within that I sometimes lose sight and touch of.

  • Thank you Per. Very pertinent for me just now after a singing lesson. I always feel overwhelmed by all apparent negative criticism during singing lessons. I pretend it doesn’t hurt; smile. To a small extent that helps to get through the lesson, and gain something from it. But after I have to try and deal with it, like I’ve just had some sort of psychic attack. Taking on board what you say helps lessen the pain and increase my confidence that I can keep going -even though starting singing late in life along with this lifetime emotional battle. I’m now 68!

  • Per, I’ve listened to your DVD’s and I’m finally enjoying listening to my own voice and receiving compliments from others. My pastor even asked me to sing a special the other day. ( I play the piano in my church and so he hears me a little.) I could never sing well and I am now nearing 60, but I am so happy about all that I have learned from your voice lessons. Thank you and Blessings, Bev

  • Hi, Per,
    I feel a bit rusty now as my teacher died a year or two back and I haven’t been working at my voice. I lost a great deal of confidence and thought trying to improve was a waste of time and money. BUT, I do enjoy singing. I really appreciate your mailings and have found your material inspirational. In fact, as a painter, I might apply your mindset idea to to painting too. I believe I am pretty good but don’t sell much, that’s why I teach. On the point of retiring now, I am amazed at how complimentary people are and it has set me to thinking that we just don’t compliment each other enough. So, just to say, I appreciate what you do and exercising my voice is what I will get down to over the next few months.

  • Per, I can see plenty of value in your approach to adversity. I wish I could summon the mental fortitude to follow your advice, and maybe your suggestions will help.
    BUT: “permission to make mistakes”! Would you extend that permission to the pilot of the plane when you next fly or the master of the cruise ship your family’s on board? I suspect not. Surely these examples stress the need to strive to eliminate the possibility of error? Can this approach be applied to singing? Would maestro Pavarotti ever have brushed off a serious mistake with a “must do better next time”?
    I know you won’t take my blunt comments as a criticism of your guidance, which I truly admire, by the way. Don’t stop!!

  • I would like couple the ability to respond with the manner in which one responds. I always add a smile; It goes a long way.

  • I have always striven for perfection in performance, knowing that it is not attainable but the attempt is worth the effort because this will produce the best performance possible and some in the audience may consider it perfect. When I make a mistake it is immediately in the past.

  • Hi Per and everyone!

    I love the wonderful insights you share and strive to practice them in life. Caruso was a mechanic’s son but his love of singing enabled him to share it with the world. We recognize greatness because it’s a quality already within each of us. It’s universal. Uni” meaning one, and “verse” meaning song, it’s a song of Love we share. The Master Classes are amazing and some moved me to tears.

    I feel inspired to really let go and to share joy! Mistakes are “bleeps” and dissolve away. When I let go of fear my voice is free. Truth does the work and opens the windows of heaven. I’m standing on the Ponte Vecchio, singing O Mio Babbino Caro!!! Hee!

    Taking a slow loving breath is being kind to myself and others, especially in the face of seeming discord. Then Love dissolves the hardness. I like this definition: F-E-A-R… False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s without foundation. I’m learning to let go and be in the moment of Love. When my voice cracks it’s not a big deal and I let go because I need to in other areas anyway. Last week I let my breath move silently through me in the grocery store and some folks seemed attracted to my uplifted feeling. It was wonderful!

    My precious friend and Mom recently and suddenly left this realm. I live with Dad and we are supporting one another. Mom is such a beautiful singer and I am sharing my lessons with her in my heart knowing Love communicates itself because it is limitless. I feel an ushering forward and her presence more vivid than ever. I’m so blessed from all that she has given me. She likes this saying, that we are “backed up by the Universe!”

    I certainly feel this support from your students. Per, thank you so much for your great teaching and love of Life! It is such a blessing!

  • Ability to respond,not blame external situations for our currant state of affairs is what i am guilty of. will try to change.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}