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The Beauty of Blunders: Why Making Mistakes Lead to Better Learning!

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The Beauty of Blunders: Why Making Mistakes Lead to Better Learning!

The Beauty of Blunders: Why Making Mistakes Lead to Better Learning!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

-Thomas Alva Edison


When was the last time you made a mistake? As absurd as it may sound, research suggests that making mistakes is beneficial. But be warned: when we say mistakes, we do not mean breaking the law! Mistakes are decisions and actions that we take in our daily lives that may not have been the best option.

When we talk to people, interact, study, manage situations, interact with others, and do a variety of other things, we make mistakes.

The good news about making mistakes is that we humans tend to remember them very well and try not to repeat them the next time. This leads to a valuable learning experience.

Have you ever seen a child attempt to take his or her first steps? Children fall many times. They are occasionally injured, but this does not deter them from trying. If they had quit early on, they would not have learned to walk.

We can learn a great deal from young children. They're not afraid to make mistakes. Some believe this is due in part to their innocence. Unlike adults, they are unconcerned about what others think, so they are not afraid of failure.

As we get older, we become more cautious, and sometimes overly so. This overprotective and defensive mind mechanism requires us to consider all possible outcomes when making a decision.

Although a little of this may be beneficial, overdoing it may halt all of our projects before they even get started. This is sometimes referred to as Analysis Paralysis.


Why do we make mistakes?

We humans tend to make mistakes. It is what makes us human after all. Nothing backs this claim better than the old age saying

“To err is human, to forgive divine,” by Alexander Pope.

This is perhaps one of the most overused proverbs as far as human mistakes are concerned.

If you talk to any successful entrepreneur, scientist, politician or athlete they all have the same thing to say about mistakes: that they are inevitable and that they play a very crucial role in achieving success later in their careers.

We learn a lot from our own mistakes rather than from the mistakes made by other people. No matter how much we learn about other people and their experiences we tend to not understand them fully. This is because we as human beings are hot-wired to learn from our past, our actions and above all, our faults rather than learning from other sources.

Being practical and emotionally occupied by our decisions or acts, these choices tend to get engraved in our minds. Memories of these events come to our rescue when we are put in a similar situation by helping us make the right choice.


When you get scolded… Take it easy!

Remember that mistakes are the first steps in the right direction when it comes to learning something new. These faults decide many of our future actions and how we interact with society as well.

Let’s elaborate. Why is it that a small child is never too cautious about making errors? The answer is pretty simple. They are innocent and hence do not give heed to what other people think.

That’s the reason why children have very steep learning curves in pretty much everything they do. Adults don’t even come close. You see, you have an edge over grownups!

As students, you should be curious and excited about discovering and experiencing new things and this helps you to consider what other people think. It has been rightly said that as we grow, the child in us dies and so does the curiosity along with it. 

But this does not always have to be the case. You have the power to choose for yourself! We need to convince ourselves that no matter what other people think we have to keep trying and embrace our failures gracefully.

We have got to learn to tame our egos and move on. We also need to retain that child in us. So the next time you end up making a mistake, just relax. Don’t panic! Learn from your mistakes and make a course correction every time you make one.

Remember: don’t be afraid to try something new or creative just out of the fear of making a mistake. That’s when the growth happens.


What exactly is the effect of hypercorrection?

This is a theory that researchers have tested and proven. To put it simply, the theory states that errors made with high confidence are more likely to be corrected than errors made with low confidence.

Interestingly, this theory has been proven several times with both children and young adults as participants. What's more intriguing is that even a wrong answer is preferable to a "no answer". 

Your brain has a tendency to overcompensate when you make mistakes, and this is what is being used to improve learning.

A study was recently conducted to examine "the hypercorrection effect in younger and older adults". The paper helps us better understand the term and its implications for both children and adults. What makes it so intriguing is the stark contrast between these two groups of participants.

Let’s break down the research using a simple graph:

In the above graph, a positive value shows hypercorrection whereas a zero value indicates no hypercorrection. As can be seen, younger people tend to display a much higher level of hypercorrection as opposed to older people.

One possible explanation could be because young people are inexperienced and curious at the same time. They are easily surprised and excited by the results of their choices.

Whatever the result of their choice, they give it good thought. When it comes out to being wrong they are perplexed and want to find out what the right answer is, and why. The sheer curiosity and desire to know engraves the right answers in their mind.

It’s almost like they never forget their mistakes. That could very well be the basis for this effect.

Unlike youngsters, adults are more experienced and mature. They are not easily surprised by the results as a result of their choices. And this could be one of the reasons for events not so easily registering in their minds.


Did you know that AI learns from mistakes just like us?

Some of us are of the view that computers can never make mistakes. In today’s world, nothing could be further from the truth. Here is an overly simplified explanation of this.

Artificial Intelligence or AI in short is a very fancy term. But there is a lot to it other than what meets the eye. AI is essentially software that mimics intelligence in some form and they actually learn from their mistakes much like us. 

Surprised? What is even more interesting is that they can learn from the choices that they make independently or through the help of a guide or a teacher who is actually another human being.

So you see even computers need to make their fair share of mistakes to get the ball rolling. And the best part, they have no emotional baggage holding them back from making those mistakes unlike us humans.


What Robin Sharma has to say about mistakes?

World-renowned leadership expert and writer Robin Sharma himself came out with all guns blazing when he said: “There are no mistakes”.

There’s a lot to that statement that’s easy to miss. He believes that mistakes are a great source of learning. One of the best ways to gain awareness, understanding and precious knowledge is actually making mistakes on your own.

He very elegantly calls mistakes “growth lessons in wolf’s clothing”. One can imagine why. According to Sharma, the person who makes the most mistakes wins the most.


Bottom Line Thoughts:

Mistakes aren't setbacks; they're opportunities. 

Each stumble is a chance to learn and grow. By accepting our missteps and using them to fuel our progress, we can turn failure into success. So, let's keep pushing forward, knowing that with each mistake, we're one step closer to reaching our goals.

We hope these words inspire you to face the challenges of today in order to meet the demands of tomorrow. So let’s roll up those sleeves and get busy making some MISTAKES, alright? 

Published on: 14 Mar 2024
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