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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Importance Of Making Mistakes

At the heart of being a true expert lies one universal truth: you need to be willing to make mistakes, and a lot of them.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a culture that celebrates failure. We want winners, people who succeed. But success comes down not to inspiration, but perspiration. Winston Churchill put it best:
"Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."
Succeeding in your chosen career and becoming a true expert requires that you fail not just once or twice, but again and again.

Failure is a crucial part of the journey to becoming an expert. As Charles Willson once said:
"The definition of an expert is someone who knows what not to do."
Without failure, we cannot hope to learn the best way to do things. Although learning from the failures of others is possible, nothing beats experiencing failure first-hand.

We need to overcome our aversion of failure. We should go as far as celebrating it. Being willing to fail is a sign of maturity, bravery and a desire to do better.

Most importantly, we need to learn to face our failures. When a project goes wrong, people tend to react in one of two ways. Some of us carry on regardless, denying the issue. We pour good money and effort after bad. Knowing when to let go is so important. The others get rid of the problem as quickly as possible and pretend it never happened. But this route means that you will never learn from your mistakes. We need to take time at the end of a disastrous project to review where things went wrong and learn from it. This path can be a hard, especially when you have to deal with an unhappy client.

Those who are never seen to fail are either too timid to try, for fear of public ridicule, or simply do not desire success enough to endure the sting of failure.

You may be concerned that public failure undermines the perception of you as an expert. Although this is certainly a possibility, the public’s perception of you is shaped by more than whether you succeed or fail at a particular endeavour.
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