Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Learn From Your Mistakes

While it may be painful, thinking about your mistakes can help you become more productive in the future. As John Caddell says at The 99 Percent, “Remember that everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone makes them worthwhile by using them to get better.”

Caddell suggests categorizing your mistakes to root out patterns, which he says often fall into one of three categories:
  • Sloppiness or carelessness
  • Playing to your weaknesses
  • Making errors under pressure
After identifying your patterns, Caddell suggests you decide on one specific action to help you address each one. Then you can decide how many of those things you can successfully implement. “It’s better to make one change that sticks than five changes that don’t,” Caddell advises.
Scott Berkun, meanwhile, suggests a different way of categorizing your mistakes by using the following categories. The examples are his:
  • Stupid (stubbing your toe)  
  • Simple (Having the power go out in the middle of your party because you didn’t pay the electric bill) 
  • Involved (Regularly arriving late for work) 
  • Complex (Making tough decisions that have bad results)
Berkun says that the involved mistakes require the most significant changes to correct. He and Caddell both say that acknowledging your mistakes is the first step toward correcting them. “If you can’t see the gaps, flaws, or weaknesses in your behavior you’re forever trapped in the same behavior and limitations you’ve always had,” Berkun says.

What techniques have worked for you to fix recurring mistakes?

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