Myth busting time !! Making mistakes do not deny us our glory. On the contrary, it gets us closer to the top. If you know precisely how to learn from your mistakes it can shoot you up, beating many others in the traditional rat-race.
I don’t know much, but I know optimization and productivity. In one similar post, I had discussed how your bad memory can help you propel upwards. Here is yet another hack which can make you, in a very short time, extremely quick, efficient and error-free in your profession. The trick is to know your errors consciously!! Follow the steps given to learn from your mistakes, and thank me later.
What am I really talking about?
To understand what I am trying to talk about, we need to delve a little deeper into how our brain works.
In Feb 1996, in a historical chess match between man and machine, reigning World Champion Gary Kasparov defeated the Deep Blue, a computer program developed by IBM over six years and with Millions of Dollars of research. Now, While Deep Blue calculated about 100 million possible chess combinations in a second and foresee up to 25 moves in advance, Kasparov could only manage about 3 moves per second.
How then did he defeat the Supercomputer? Well, the answer lies in how our brain learns things.
When we make a mistake, a set of neurons fires up in our brain to establish a new neural pathway to prevent us from repeating those mistakes. A bad memory is formed as a barrier. Stronger the memory, lesser is the chance of repeating mistakes. This system is so fool-proof that in a matter of a few hours, our mind can be configured never to go down the wrong way again.
Deep Blue was dealing in algorithms while Kasparov simply had his memories to prevent him from making wrong moves. He had a ‘sense’ stopping him from making wrong moves. Each such decision involved complex algorithms and numerous small calculations, which simply comes to us as instinctive results. In other words, if you learn from your mistakes, your brain can solve unimaginably complex and difficult problems.
So if the human mind, undoubtedly the most sophisticated machine in the world does it, why can’t you learn from your mistakes? Well, everyone who makes a mistake does not necessarily come out effective after that. That’s because there is a precise way to learn – and here is how.
The four-step strategy to learn from your mistakes
Let us explain each step with a real life example
- Imagine a car mechanic named Andrew. His job is to check all cars for problems. He follows a checklist which involves everything which can possibly go wrong in a vehicle.
Step 1: Note down your mistakes
Every time you do a job for the first time, note down exactly the difficulties you faced, and what you did to overcome them. I am asking you to physically note it down using a pen and a paper. No shortcuts.
This may also be your PC or your phone. Improvise. Just one rule – every time you make a mistake, note it down.
- Andrew follows the checklist diligently. It takes him hours. He finds that most Merc Benz cars have transmission problems. He keeps a record of that.
Step 2: Learn from the mistakes of your peers
Don’t wait to make all the mistakes.
Use the global information bank of mistakes called experience feedback. Learn from colleagues. Watch closely for things that went wrong, how they tackled problems. Learn from others in similar professions, or from the internet. Again – keep a note.
- Andrew digs deeper online and from the feedback of other garages, and finds that among a few things which are specifically giving problems to Merc Benz car owners, are transmissions. His purview shortens.
Step 3: Make your list of things to check
Yes, you guessed right. This list will be a combination of every possible error which you have come across in Steps 1 and 2. Here is where you begin to learn from your mistakes. A bit of imagination is required to imagine what can go wrong by extension too. Mention anything unexpected.
- Now when Andrew sees a Merc Benz, he knows exactly what to focus on. He follows his own list of priorities. Since the cars have transmission problems he knows that he has to check the accelerators too, which are prone to trouble by extension.
What takes others three hours takes him a few minutes now. His colleagues are dumbfounded.
Step 4: Never be complacent
Word of caution: Many people have gone complacent at this point. You must understand that while your efficiency is definitely climbing, your problems can come from unexpected corners.
- Although Andrew knows that most cars will have similar problems, he still follows the checklist. though he checks everything, he just knows which one to focus on.
As you probably have guessed, Andrew will soon be the Merc Benz specialist and get noticed. Not because he is extremely intelligent. He simply knew his mistakes.
Know your mistakes
Yes, I made a lot of mistakes.
What saved me in the long run though is to know and understand those mistakes consciously, instead of trying to deny or justify them. Young trainees out at sea who work for me make their share of mistakes too. And I know that just like me, those guys will also be champions. All they need is a little guidance on which way to look. And that’s my job!!
Teach your juniors to learn from their mistakes so that make you proud one day!! Isn’t it ironical that we have known the process backward all along? We do not make mistakes while we learn, we learn because we make mistakes.
Featured photo credit: imworld.aufeminin.com via imworld.aufeminin.com