Misteaks and Failure

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. -Albert Einstein

A fellow who never makes a mistake must get tired of doing nothing.

A man who never makes a mistake will never make anything. -Theodore Roosevelt

All these excellent quotes say the same thing. The last one is my favourite as it correctly implies that you must make mistakes. Someone who never makes mistakes is someone who does nothing.

If making mistakes is inevitable and doing nothing is unacceptable you’ll need a system. Here’s what works for me:

  1. I don’t let fear of mistakes prevent me from doing.

  2. When the inevitable mistakes occurs, I’m not surprised or upset I just accept that it happened.

  3. I apologize for the mistake if necessary.

  4. I reanalyze and determine if I need to ask for help. And I beg for help if I have to but usually if you ask for help you’ll get it.

  5. I talk it out and take a step back to refocus and plan the next steps.

  6. GOTO 1

Having a system for dealing with mistakes is great but it’s not the only part of this equation. The first step is recognizing your mistakes otherwise you’ll never need a system! There are 4 levels of competence:

  1. Unconscious incompetence: This is the default position for any skill or subject matter. The only way to get competent in anything is to try it and, inevitably, make mistakes as you learn.

  2. Conscious incompetence: Though one does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize both that they are deficient in this area and the value of a new skill to address this deficit. Making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

  3. Conscious competence: One understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration and may be broken down into steps. Heavy conscious involvement is required when executing the new skill; mistakes are still made.

  4. Unconscious competence: One has so much practice with a skill that it’s second nature and can be easily performed. As a result the skill can be performed while executing another task. You have made every mistake and know how to avoid them.

Obviously by now you’re wondering how failure plays in all of this? It’s in the title after all.

The Only Way to Truly Fail is to Never Try