We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. But how many mistakes can be avoided? The truth is, some people repeat mistakes with alarming regularity. They make a mistake, get up from the fall, and run right back into the wall…again. Ouch! Does that make any sense to you? Why learn the hard way?
Why don’t we learn from our mistakes and then do our best to avoid them? Some people fail to learn because they have egos as big as the sky. Others are too busy, stubborn, angry, disappointed, embarrassed, or just plain lazy.
Smart people do stupid things. Stupid people don’t learn from them.
Some Folks Never Learn a Lesson
Ask yourself, “Do I have 20 years of experience or one year of experience repeated 20 times?” Here are 12 reasons why people learn the hard way. They say:
- “I already know how it’s done.” Some folks think they know it all and don’t have anything left to learn.
- “I’ll never be in this situation again.” Some people refuse to take the time to learn from an activity that might not occur again — even though it probably will.
- “It won’t matter anyway.” Some folks think most failures are beyond their control — so learning from them is pointless.
- “I don’t have time.” Some people are too busy to think about, much less learn from, their mistakes.
- “I’m rarely wrong.” Some folks believe they don’t make mistakes. Obviously, they’ll never learn.
- “I always do it this way.” Some people do things without much forethought. The last thing on their mind is applying lessons learned.
- “What do they know?” Some folks avoid feedback like the plague. They believe that if they don’t know about their flaws, they don’t have any.
- “No one ever told me.” Some people live or work alone. They repeat mistakes because they’re unaware of them.
- “It looks good to me.” Some folks have a weird sense of reality. Whenever they make mistakes, they convince themselves otherwise.
- “I’m so unlucky.” Some people believe a mistake is the result of bad luck. In that case, it’s pointless to learn from it.
- “I don’t care how others did it.” Some folks refuse to consider whether something’s been done before — much less apply lessons learned.
- “I’m too old to learn a new way.” Some people think they’ve been “at this for so long” there’s no need to learn. That’s a mistake!
Treat Every Mistake As a Learning Opportunity
There are so many opportunities to learn from mistakes. Here are 8 guidelines to consider:
Remind yourself that mistakes make you human. Making a mistake is acceptable. Just don’t let it return for an encore.
Admit your mistakes and own them. Treat every mistake as a learning opportunity rather than a source of fear or embarrassment.
Welcome feedback. Treat feedback as a gift rather than a slap in the face.
Give yourself a grade. Life is a classroom. Every time you finish an activity, ask yourself, “If I had an opportunity to do this again, what would I do differently?”
Challenge your routines. Leave your comfort zone and be receptive to change. When people don’t learn from mistakes, their mistakes often turn into bad habits.
Modify your habits. Ditch your bad habits. Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.
Think before you begin an activity. Determine whether you’ve done it in the past so you don’t reinvent the wheel.
Learn from others. If you learn from the mistakes of others, you won’t have to make every mistake yourself.
Why Learn the Hard Way: Live and Learn
Everything you do provides an opportunity to learn, but that doesn’t happen magically. You have to make the effort to reflect on your experiences and summon the courage, desire, and commitment to apply the lessons. Although that’s not easy, it’s certainly better than repeating mistakes time and time again. Don’t learn the hard way. Next time you make a mistake, throw away the bad experience, but save the lesson.
Are You Learning the Hard Way?
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