Tag Archives: Failure

Admitting mistakes

Admitting mistakes

We live with a curious irony: everyone makes mistakes, but no one admits to making them.  OK, maybe you’re one of the few that admits theirs, but most people are as unwilling to admit their mistakes as they are to draw attention to the piece of lettuce stuck between their teeth.

That’s curious isn’t it?  I mean since mistake-making is inevitable and drives the learning process.

The reason we don’t like to admit mistakes is that we want to look good which we associate with attractiveness, social stature, love, inclusion, offers and even riches.  Our brilliant school system has taught us that when we get stuff right we get praise, rewards and attention and when we get stuff wrong we get their opposites.  Kids quickly learn that they are punished for making mistakes; and worse —that making a mistake means something bad about them.

We’d unleash human potential if we corrected this one thing; that making a mistake says nothing about you as a person and does not make you look bad as long as you learn from it; that you’re socially more valuable when you share your mistakes.   In fact, life is about making mistakes.

Mistakes are teachers

Mistakes do more than signal you’re on the wrong path, they are opportunities to spread learning so that others avoid making the same mistakes.  Hiding mistakes guarantees that group learning cannot take place and increases the social and economic costs of those mistakes.

Nowhere is this failure to admit mistakes more prevalent than among doctors and below is talk from Dr. Brian Goldman who talks about how this has to change and why.  It’s a refreshing look at authenticity and I hope it inspires you to admit to a mistake you’ve made; or perhaps are still making.  Imagine what it must be like for him as a doctor to admit what he does in this talk.


Photo by kthypryn

Photo by kennethkonica

Photo by RowdyKittens

Commit to the practice, not the objective

Commit to the practice, not the objective

There is nothing wrong with failing as long as it comes from a sincere effort to succeed and we learn from the experience so we don’t repeat the mistake on our next attempt. But for many failures—starting that business, writing that book, or losing that 20lbs—most of us don’t learn and we often repeat theContinue Reading

What are you failing at?

What are you failing at?

Failure is nature’s way of preparing you for success.  And thank her for that, because life would be numbingly boring if you immediately succeeded at everything you tried. Unfortunately this isn’t widely taught and so millions of us grow up imprisoned by a few bad outcomes, or worse failing at something important and not knowingContinue Reading

Fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it

Everyone faces times when they feel like a fraud; some people live their entire lives with that feeling. Many artists confess to this, especially writers.  David Duchovny’s character in Californication proclaims that he’s a writer that doesn’t write. Boy I can relate to that. Interestingly enough, sometimes this feeling persists despite all of the evidenceContinue Reading

What if there are no mistakes?

What if there are no mistakes?

In life we’re consumed by the need to avoid making mistakes. We indoctrinate our kids in one right way of doing things. Kids learn quickly that love and approval comes from getting things right, and that ridicule and separation comes from making mistakes. Mistakes as the means to show superiority The focus on being right makes it into ourContinue Reading

Happy new year

Seems odd starting off the new year without first acknowledging that it is one. So. Happy new year.  No exclamation mark, just a period, or a full-stop as the British say.  Not that I’m down on the prospects for 2011; it’s just that I’ve been in a bit of a “life is hard”, “business isContinue Reading

What’s the proof of your education?

Just listened to Diane Ravitch, the Research Prof. at New York University, talk about the perils of the current focus of test scores as the measure of how well America’s children are being educated. Apart from the apparent shennanigans going on around manipulating test scores to meet Government standards, her assessment that the focus onContinue Reading

The Hubris of Free Will

One of the things we often hear about what makes human beings special and perhaps unique on the planet is that we have free will.  But what does that mean exactly? Is it that we are self-directed and autonomous in a way that no other animal is?  I think that’s what we mean when weContinue Reading

Dignity, Honor and Respect at 2009 Australian Open Award Ceremony

If ever there was an epic display of love, honor and respect it was in the award ceremony of the 2009 Australian Open.  The clip is below, and if you’re the emotional type you’ll want to watch it even if tennis is not your thing.  You could feel feel a tsunami of emotion in theContinue Reading


So my friend who wants to try out living his life as a practice tells me that he’s willing to give this a go as long as my requests don’t add any more “to-do’s” to his list. How cute. He wants to get the benefit of living his life as a practice as long asContinue Reading