Often times we are being told: learn from your mistakes. But what that actually means? What is behind all that? Are we really reluctant enough not to remember the results from the last time, and repeat the same thing over and over again?
Or were we never even aware of the mistake being made at the first place? And how so that those who tell us about learning from mistakes are better than us? Have they learnt from their mistakes?
Having similar situations in our daily routine it is just logical to assume that things will happen from an angle that was seen before or at least we will see some kind of connection between what will happen in the future and things that happened to us before.
Have we handled them nicely, then by any means we will approach the situation by the already known pattern, but have we experienced failure (even though this may not be the appropriate word), then we are better of trying something else, or by any means not repeating the same thing.
That, put in a sentence, pretty much sums up what learning from mistakes is.
This quote does it too:
“Insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
So, how to learn from your mistakes?
Learn from your mistakes by acknowledging them as they are – mistakes
If you are one of those type of people who never admit they’ve made a mistake, then it’s hard for you to get something out of it. Because, you see, even if you match that description a little bit, then you are skipping the first step which you have to take in order to learn from your mistakes.
And the first step is admitting and acknowledging that you’ve actually made a mistake.
That sounds hard, no? Don’t worry, many people never admit they’ve made something wrong. But you know what? You are many steps ahead of them. That is, if you openly admit to yourself each and every one of your mistakes.
If you’ve done this (often times this can be the hardest part) you can move forward to learning from your mistakes and improve. Or if nothing else, never repeat them.
Analyze the mistake in order to learn from it
This becomes fairly easier when the first step is done. Here you have to reminisce, if you will, about many of the mistakes you’ve done recently.
And please don’t limit yourself. Try and remember if you’ve made mistakes at job, in relations with others, in your daily schedule, diet plan, in the conversation you had with your kids the day before.
However, try and approach only one aspect of your life at a time. Then by going through all the things you’ve done wrong, you can try and find what made you do so.
Here are couple of things you can think about:
- Are those mistakes connected in any particular way?
- What was your emotional state when you done things that way? Is there a similarity between the situations?
- What triggered such response by your side? Does the same trigger appears in more than one occasion?
- Try and think about the people connected with these situations. Are they the same? Or do they have a connection between them in any way?
This really makes you think about your mistakes in a different fashion. From a perspective that is broader, albeit somewhat more concise. And by doing so you come up with answers, and start to see what it is that make you do things in certain way.
Then you can really start to learn from your mistakes. But that learning is not over yet.
Learning from your mistakes happens from here on now
Now, you begin to apply the things you’ve just realized. Think about situations that may occur in the future, that have connecting points with the ones in which you made your mistake. Try and anticipate what your response may now be (having analyzed the past experiences).
Or you can already start and improve some aspects of your life once you see that you’ve managed them poorly. Think healthy diet for example or waking schedule or even think about your time management. I’m now just shooting things from the top of my head, but I hope that you get the picture.
Even the animals learn from their mistakes. Often times I see my dog doing something, sometimes even hurting himself in the process, and it is interesting to see how careful he is when a similar situation occurs.
It’s a gift, learning from our mistakes that is, from the evolutionary process. But the results from our mistakes don’t have to be that much dire in order for us to pay attention.
Even if they are small mistakes with fairly innocuous consequences, we can still benefit a great deal by learning from them.
At least that is how I understand our personal growth – doing changes, applying what you learn, even on the small scale, even if there is not a big difference from it.
On the long run we are certainly gaining a lot, and if you think about it, the change in mindset is huge, therefore the chance for improvement a lot bigger.
Try and think what you can do better, knowing how you managed things the last time. This alone will open a completely new window of broader perspectives and new and fresh look upon things.
Never get complacent
You will get a hold on the new process very quickly, but the thing is that mistakes are done all the time. In fact if you don’t do mistakes, then it’s very likely that you are not even working hard, or trying at all. So bearing this in mind, the best thing to do is to always stick to this new acquired practice, and never abandon it.
As time progresses, so will your experience in dealing with mistakes, making less than usual, and what is more important learning from the ones you make.
Having experience is nothing more than that, and having more experience is nothing else than the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.