Avoiding Mistakes Is A Mistake

I recently wrote that luck was essentially exposing yourself to situations where good results could happen. That does not mean that good results always happen, and in fact, not-so-good results can occur, too. Sometimes those are the lucky result. Learning seldom occurs when you are right, and if noticed, it almost always occurs when you make a mistake.

Teaching to give the right answers is a mistake.

Teachers condition children to be right and to value being right. That is a teaching function, but it is not a function of learning. Getting 100% on a math test is not the same as knowing the material and, almost certainly, not an indicator that the child could use the material.

If you are teaching people, the value is the right answer. When helping people learn, the value is a wrong answer. Wrong answers provide greater insight into the situation, making the experience more memorable. Patterns become visible on analysis even if the test result was 90%.

Mistakes can be costly.

The immediate response is, let’s avoid them.

That has limited value because you cannot expand your knowledge and skill. Some of what you know will become obsolete, so your overall toolbox will shrink if you don’t permit mistakes. Avoiding loses.

The best alternative to avoidance

Make controlled mistakes. Try new things, and pay attention to what variations from your expectation occur. Explore areas where mistakes are neither lethal nor leading to bankruptcy for yourself and your children. Learn how to gain experience at the least cost. Recall that experience is the best teacher.

You can’t make all the mistakes, so learning from your own mistakes is a limiting method to gain knowledge.

Learn from the mistakes of others. In many subjects, that is what education is about. A teacher/guide who can address the circumstances, the event that led to chaos, the alternatives that the participants missed, and how we can use that awareness of another option to our advantage. More commonly, there will be a chain of poor decisions. Those are even more interesting.

Studying history is more complicated than studying business or economics because, as historian Will Durant has pointed out, “Most of history is guessing tainted by ideology.”

Nonetheless, studying how weak decisions came to be and how they might have been avoided is worth time and trouble. Surprisingly people enjoy the course when it is organized this way. The date and the participants at the battle of Hastings are far less exciting than how the battle came to be and how it was won.

Mistakes can be your friend.

Don’t avoid them or ignore them when they happen.

In the real world, mistakes are a given. Perfect performance is unusual. In baseball, if a batter is out 65% of the times they come to bat, they will be paid tens of millions for their 35% success rate. Other careers are less dramatic but in most cases, “right enough” is the goal.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate and effective ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.

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