Learning from Mistakes

We all make them, they can be hard to admit to, but are we learning from mistakes? There are many famous quotes about them, my favourite is: It’s not a crime to make a mistake, but it is a crime to not learn from it. This is saying that it’s ok to make a mistake as long as you get a lesson from it. I could go further and say that it might be necessary to make the odd mistake now and then.

One of the most inspirational stories about mistakes is that of the discovery of Penicillin. The story goes that Alexander Flemming had been using some petri dishes and hadn’t cleaned them after he’d finished using them. When he went back to them sometime later, he noticed some of them had become contaminated and bacteria had grown on them. He also noticed that one of them had a patch of mould which was preventing the bacteria from growing. He decided to examine this more closely and that’s how Penicillin was discovered.

I suppose you could argue that not washing up dishes isn’t really a mistake (it’s more of a crime in my house), but the point is, by mistakenly overlooking something, it led to something greater. Something like that puts making a mistake into a different perspective. As much as we might not like making them, at least psychologists from the University of Exeter have identified why we learn from our mistakes.

 

learning from mistakes

 

Everyone Makes Mistakes

 

It’s part of being a human being, none of us is perfect, depending on how you define “perfect” of course. In some ways, it’s comforting to know you’re not alone in making these faux pas, but it can still be worrying or embarrassing. What type of mistake and how big it is will also have an impact on you and others. No matter how big or small, once it’s done it can’t be undone. Maybe it can be put right, but the deed will remain done forever.

I’m sure you can name many times that you’ve messed up, I know I can, but are you someone who admits their mistakes? This is so important, it’s not so much about owning up to them, it’s about admitting them. By admitting to yourself that you’ve made a mistake, it can move you from blame to understanding. Move on and don’t let your past affect your future in a negative way.

I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old, just after Christmas I went with my dad to visit my grandmother. My younger brother and mum, for some reason, didn’t come with us. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this visit would teach me a lesson that’s had a lasting impact on my life.

 

My Mistake and the Lesson I learned

 

When my dad and I were leaving my grandmother’s house to go home, she took two chocolate soldiers off her Christmas tree and gave them to me. One was for me and the other, for my brother. I put one of them in my left side trouser pocket (that was to be mine, because I’m lefthanded) and the other in my right side trouser pocket. On the drive home in the car, I kept my hand on my chocolate soldier in my pocket, because I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t do that to my brother’s because I wasn’t that bothered about looking after it.

On arrival back home around 20 minutes later, I took both soldiers out of my pockets, giving the one for my brother, from my right side pocket, to him. We both took off the foil wrappers and to my dismay, my brother’s chocolate soldier was perfect, but mine wasn’t. You see, by selfishly keeping hold of my soldier, the chocolate had melted because of the heat from my hand. I was unable to separate the chocolate from the foil wrapping, so had to throw it away.

Every time I tell that story people laugh at me, but I can still vividly remember how I felt about the lesson I learned that day, even though I was very young. I knew it was wrong to only look after my chocolate soldier and not my brother’s, I had made a mistake. The lesson was clear to me, don’t just look out for yourself, look out for others too. I’m glad I learned that lesson over something very trivial, but it had an impact on me and has stayed with me in everything I do today.

 

Benefits of Making Mistakes

 

If you didn’t previously, by now you can probably see the benefits of making mistakes. There’s even a term: mistake-driven learning. Learning through making mistakes can present some harsh but rewarding lessons. When that’s accepted as ok to do, it opens up the possibility of taking more risks. This is particularly good in business where boundaries might need pushing in order to grow. It’s been said that good employees make mistakes, great employers allow them to.

Whenever you make an error, always remember that it’s an opportunity to learn, to grow and improve yourself. Admission is the first and probably most difficult step, but once past that hurdle, the benefits will soon become clear. The reason we might feel bad about it is because of any harm we may have done, but it can also be down to our ego. The ego works between the conscious and subconscious. It is our definition of our self and is based on outside influences such as achievements, possessions or reputation. These things can get in the way of who you really are and lessons you’re learning.

You are on a journey through life on a path which is bound to have bumps along the way. It’s natural to make mistakes, always remember that they are what you do and not who you are. When you make a mistake, you are learning a lesson, you are moving forward, just accept they are a part of living.

 

Learning from Mistakes Quotes and Sayings

 

They say you need to learn from your mistakes and move on, because there is no point dwelling on them. There are thousands of learning from mistakes quotes and saying which, in the main, point out the positive in them. For example, Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Trying new things is always risky and there are new lessons to learn.

Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes.” Dale Carnegie said, “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” Finally, a couple from unknown people: “Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones. Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” And this one: “Never say, ‘oops’. Always say, ‘Ah, interesting’.”

Do you see how each of them look at mistakes in the same way? They are not a bad thing at all. Making mistakes and learning from them propel your journey. They give life experience and they show you how to deal with others when they make them. It may sound odd to read, but embrace them, be thankful for them because learning from mistakes is going to raise your vibration and make you a better person.