We are often daunted by the idea of trying something new, a big reason being that we are afraid of messing up in that endeavour. Afraid of making a mistake, we avoid it.
This is perfectly understandable. However, mistakes are often a positive and a force for change in our lives. Michael Jordan encapsulated it perfectly when he said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.
Who’s to argue with the 6-time NBA Championship winner and arguably the greatest basketballer of all time? Here are the top ten reasons why mistakes are good for learning.
10. Help us find alternatives – different ways to success
Kicking off our list of the top ten reasons why mistakes are good for learning is that they help us to find alternatives. If we are attentive enough to the mistake, we will see where we went wrong. From there, we should be able to find alternative ways to succeed.
9. Face fears – a very powerful tool
As alluded to in the introduction, we often fear making mistakes or failing. In making mistakes, ultimately we face those fears.
From that, we can gain the courage to go again, make more mistakes, and keep learning along the way. It can become a very powerful tool.
8. It’s how we learn – as simple as it sounds
We can directly take the title of this article and place it here. Mistakes are how we learn. We have to make a mistake to identify where we went wrong. Once we identify that, we learn how to navigate better moving forward.
7. Unexpected positive consequences – leading to life-changing discoveries
The BBC pointed out how some of the biggest historical mistakes have actually led to life-changing discoveries.
For example, in 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic penicillin after a petri dish he had left unattended became contaminated. Where the mould grew, bacteria didn’t.
6. Teaches us about ourselves – points us in a better direction
One of the top reasons mistakes are good for learning is that they allow us to learn more about ourselves, perhaps what we are good at and bad at.
We all experiment and try things throughout our lives to see what we want to do. Making mistakes can help point us in a better direction moving forward.
5. Clarifies our priorities – one of the best reasons why mistakes are good for learning
Kicking off four top five reasons why mistakes are good for learning, and a direct follow-up from entry number six, is that making mistakes can help to clarify our priorities.
Many of the most successful people talk about how they failed over and over again before attaining greatness. They were able to refine their priorities and hone in.
4. Look back and laugh at ourselves – don’t take yourself too seriously
One of the best reasons why mistakes are good for learning is that down the line, if we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we will be able to have a laugh at ourselves.
Laughing is the antidote to many negative emotions, and there certainly is no harm in being a bit self-deprecating and laughing at ourselves occasionally.
3. Teach others – using your mistakes to benefit others
Perhaps one of the most satisfying reasons why mistakes are good for learning is that we gain the ability to teach others about the experience.
You may be a pioneer in a certain field, an older sibling, or someone of influence. If you have tried something and failed, you can alert those coming after you and point them in the right direction.
2. Inspires creativity – thinking outside the box to reach a solution
If you have made a mistake, it often isn’t easy to rectify the mistake or overcome it. If information isn’t readily available to assist, how do you fix it?
This is where mistakes can inspire creativity. You will need to think outside the box in order to think of the solution.
1. Learn how to be better next time out – better after every time
Topping our list of the reasons why mistakes are good for learning perhaps combines all previous nine entries into one; mistakes let us learn how to be better next time.
This can go for any endeavour you are involved in. Should you try and fail, you can go again. Try the shot again, resit the exam, redraw the painting. You will get better each time. This is the essence of that earlier quote from one of the most inspiring sportspeople.