Nobody likes making mistakes, yet everybody makes them. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and they can provide a chance for us to grow. Even though you may never learn to love making mistakes, you can certainly grow to accept them and use them to your advantage.
Serena Williams, a professional tennis player and former No. 1 in women’s single tennis,
said: “Sometimes you don’t know how to be better if you are always doing it right. You can just kinda stay in this plane. Failing allows you to fall and rise up higher than you could if you didn’t fail.
Mistakes and Learning
Here are some ways mistakes hinder our learning process:
1. We get discouraged.
When we make a mistake, get frustrated, and interpret it as a sign that we should stop, that’s our fixed mindset speaking.
2. We don’t reflect on our mistakes and don’t own up to our mistakes.
The best part of making a mistake is being given an opportunity to reflect on our errors and understand why it happened. A mistake becomes a scary, foreign thing when we don’t give it thought or consideration.
3. We avoid taking risks or doing things we’ve made mistakes in before.
We often view our mistakes as unpleasant and to be avoided in the future. That means that we avoid challenges and opportunities to improve on our past performance. Unfortunately, we avoid the very situations where we’re most likely to learn and improve.
Mistakes & the Growth Mindset
Mistakes can also be helpful. People with a growth mindset interpret mistakes in a more
positive light. They view mistakes as valuable, not as something negative or something embarrassing, and they take the time to learn from them.
Mistakes are not a reflection on our own failures, but rather an opportunity to learn and grow.
Learning From Mistakes
Here are some strategies on how to learn from our mistakes:
1. Slow-down opportunity
This strategy should be used when you make a small mistake (or accident), usually caused by rushing through your work. When these happen, take the opportunity to slow down and check your work a few times or even take a break. Confronting these small mistakes early on may save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
2. Review opportunity
This strategy should be used when you make a medium-sized mistake. It is usually something you don’t understand yet, but you do have a sense of direction. When these happen, take the opportunity to review what you have learned by rereading a chapter, watching an informational video, or looking over your notes. Reflect on this mistake until you feel as though you understood where you went wrong and how you can prevent that in the future.
3. Feedback opportunity
This strategy should be used when you make a bigger mistake that you haven’t understood yet, even with reviewing and reflecting on your own. When these happen, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don’t let your fixed mindset tell you that you are incapable or that it’s impossible. With the support of others, whether it’s your teacher, friend, or tutor, you will be able to learn and master the concept.
Here’s the bottom line: Mistakes can be both harmful or helpful, and it depends on you. When you ignore your mistakes or allow detrimental thought patterns to emerge, they can be harmful. However, when you reflect on them in a positive and productive manner, they can be the best mechanism to learn and improve.