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Learning From Mistakes

July 5, 2007

How often have you heard the phrase “learn from your mistakes”?

Whether or not you take something away from one of these events will depend on the situation, your interpretation of the situation and the impact it had on you.

There are a lot a theories about the psychology behind us and our mistakes but in practicality, you either didn’t do something or you did it wrong in some way.

Omissions and Errors

An omission is complete failure to act or oversight, whilst an error is an attempt that didn’t succeed. You can vary the actual terms used but these seem to be the closest to what I’m trying to describe here. You could also conclude that omissions would be knowledge based and errors would be skill based. Statistics may even support this in terms of numbers, but each of these have several causes and finding the right one is essential in fixing the problem. You will even need to consider the possibility of things like physical prevention (the “sun was in my eyes…” defence).

Why would you care?

Knowing why a mistake occurred may be irrelevant in terms of establishing competency (although your competencies will indicate the apparent cause if worded correctly). However, the actual cause is important to those of us who must correct them and the approach to dealing with these problems will vary dramatically with the cause. It is very difficult to practice what you don’t know and hitting the books will offer little support to the skill based issue.

I will discuss each of these separately over the next couple of posts.

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