Learning by making mistakes is a hard habit to learn.
The reasons for this are many, but for the most part, we are afraid to fail in our society, in business, in life, so when we make mistakes we associate this with failure.
Of course, what we should be doing is taking our small mistakes and ‘little failures’ and looking at them as strategies to learning new concepts and gain better understanding of a topic.
In other words, when we make a mistake we are learning. We are saying, ‘okay this didn’t work, and I see why it didn’t work and now on to the next try. We all know this works from a logical standpoint, yet we are so afraid to make mistakes, often times we don’t even try.
We think to ourselves, ‘I’ll never be able to do this, so why bother trying. I’ll just fail.’
We often forget that the most successful people on the planet, and the most famous in history, often failed over and over again before they were considered successful.
Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before discovering how to use electricity to create light.
Michael Jordan didn’t make every basket, Warren Buffet hasn’t made only good investments and Gordon Ramsay doesn’t make every meal perfectly the first time.
Just the same way these people fail and have failed you should feel like you can fail hundreds of times before the ‘aha’ moment happens.
I’ve failed, a lot. I’ve had clients I didn’t rank or services well. I’ve run ad campaigns which got little to no results. I’ve put the wrong name on a proposal and one time I even applied for a job with the title “captain of the girls soccer team” on my CV (I’d used my girlfriends CV template, I actually got the job but that’s not the point).
The point is that we all make mistakes and that it takes guts to admit that making mistakes is a good part of the learning process, and not something you should beat yourself up over.
This includes not only when you learn new things but when you are learning how to do new things in a subject or situation that is new.
For example; You might really know your job. I know mine as a marketer but, right now, we’re in a new situation. Covid, working from home, the economy etc.
All of these things add new dimensions to a job that I can do well normally but maybe, I will fail at trying to adapt my marketing messages or my audience correctly during a time when things aren’t normal.
If you decide from the onset that you are going to make mistakes and will not get the answer right on the first go, you are beginning to understand what learning is all about and what it really takes.
To make it easier, try to tell yourself that you are allowed to make a certain number of mistakes. Let’s say you can make four mistakes and on the fifth try you will get the problem right.
What this does is allow you to fail so you can learn.
Not only will this help you to figure out what you already know, but also allows you to figure out what you don’t know, and what you might need to review before moving forward.
I like to look at it like this: Life is a series of failures that get me closer to success. The more I fail, the more likely I am to succeed in the long run, because I have taken chances, learned from my mistakes and am ready to face the next series of challenges knowing full well I will make mistakes and learn from them.
I know at first, this ‘make mistakes’ approach to may seem a bit strange.
However the more you do it, the more you will understand how it will help you gain true understanding of whatever you’re trying to learn and allow you to move forward with more confidence to the next problem.
Think about it, if every problem is only four mistakes away, then you can learn anything you want to, knowing full well that after the fifth mistake you will have the solution!
Of course, in the real world it might take you nine mistakes, or 20 or 30! But the point is that each mistake provides growth and understanding that gets you that much closer to the right answer.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.