Thursday, 21 June 2012

Learning From Mistakes

Picture this: While walking in the mall, you see a toddler struggling to walk properly. In your mind you think, "Isn't she so cute ... oh, come on now ... walk steadily ... yes, that's right." You’re anxiously waiting to see her make those few more baby steps but in the next few seconds, she falls and lands on her backside.  She then leans forward with her hands on the ground, pushing her body upward to a balanced position before she can stand properly again. That's the spirit of the toddler - never give up. You deservedly say, "Well done baby girl!"
How often in the adult world when we fail in achieving something, or simply make mistakes, do we lose that spirit which once infected us when we were young?

Most people are afraid to fail. They worry constantly about not meeting expectations, making a mistake, or trying something new. Because of this, many never get started on the path toward reaching their goals .. and thus they assure themselves of the very thing they are afraid of .. failure.  In order to become a successful entrepreneur you will likely have to 'pay your dues.' You'll likely have to fail a few times, learn from your lessons, and only then be able to come through a winner. While you don't have to take wild chances, you do have to take calculated and educated risks.

In the world of academics, mistakes are perceived as bad and to be avoided. For the first twenty-two years of your life, you are taught that mistakes are bad and embarrassing .. when in fact mistakes are simply opportunities to learn something new. The more mistakes a person makes, the more they will have learned and the greater chance they will have of succeeding on their next try. The key, however, is to learn from your mistakes and not make the same mistake twice.

Thomas Edison would have never invented the light bulb if he had not taken this principle to heart. Edison failed more than 10,000 times before he found the filament that would create light for a sustained period of time. He did not view these as failures, however.  Do you think that on his 6,635th try to find a proper filament for the light bulb, he saw himself as having failed 6634 times?  Of course not: he simply reframed the situation so that to him he had successfully eliminated 6,634 possibilities, refining and narrowing his search as he proceeded, drawing him closer and closer to his goal.

Two other failures you may have heard of are Levi Strauss and Christopher Columbus. Strauss headed for the gold mines of California in hopes of gold and glory. But he found none. Instead, this failure gave him new knowledge of a gap in the marketplace. He began selling pants made out of canvas to those miners that were succeeding. Today, we've all heard of Levi Strauss jeans. Columbus failed miserably on his goal to find a route to India. However, in failing that he ran into a new opportunity.. that of discovering the New World.

By taking action and learning from your mistakes and failures, you'll gain new knowledge and become aware of many new opportunities. When you come to the edge of what you know, it's time to make some mistakes.

If you have reached the edge of your career after a number of years and are feeling enormously tired, it's time for you to make some mistakes. Try making some daring approaches to your work. If the only solution is for you to seek another new job, do it. If being enterprising is what you desire, go for it.  To put yourself in a catch-22 situation will not help you move on.  If you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same result.

Anthony Robbins said that insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.  An instant mistake that will reap you a new learning experience is certainly much better than years of clinging on to the same old mistake and doing nothing at all.

Author: Aaron Loh


  1. I love it... just what I needed to make a decision. Thank you

  2. I forget who said it but I had to share:

    "You want to fail fast and fail forward. That's the secret of success nobody talks about."

  3. I believe this is going to be a solution to many affected individuals once the get there hands on this information

  4. Excellent stuff - we learn by making mistakes, but then we're taught that mistakes are bad :( One way to overcome this is to start asking yourself better questions. Instead of "Why can I never get it right?" try "How could I learn to do this?" - there's a very useful article on the subject here: Asking better questions
    Keep learning :)
    IanB ~