Scott Berkun, the author of The Art of Project Management, has written a nice article on how to learn from your mistakes. He categorized mistakes into four types:
- Stupid: Absurdly dumb things that just happen. Stubbing your toe, dropping your pizza on your neighbor’s fat cat or poking yourself in the eye with a banana.
- Simple: Mistakes that are avoidable but your sequence of decisions made inevitable. Having the power go out in the middle of your party because you forgot to pay the rent, or running out of beer at said party because you didn’t anticipate the number of guests.
- Involved: Mistakes that are understood but require effort to prevent. Regularly arriving late to work/friends, eating fast food for lunch every day, or going bankrupt at your start-up company because of your complete ignorance of basic accounting.
- Complex: Mistakes that have complicated causes and no obvious way to avoid next time. Examples include making tough decisions that have bad results, relationships that fail, or other unpleasant or unsatisfying outcomes to important things.
The most important points are that you have to acknowledge mistakes you made, respond to them appropriately and think of alternatives that you can take and how should you react.
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