Monday, December 6, 2010

Ideas to Ponder: "When Mistakes are Good..."

One thing as human beings we all have potential to do, and that (as you might have guessed it) is the potential to make mistakes! We commit mistakes no matter how precautionary we are, and to our surprise many times we commit these mistake because of the over precaution we took! I did try to address this topic in my earlier posts, but not to the extent to which I will be addressing here. 

|"It took me a long time to understand that, as human beings, we are bound to commit mistakes (this is something which is expected from us!)."

There are several related questions to committing mistakes, some of them are before committing them, few of them during and most of them after committing the mistakes. Lets deal each one of them one by one...

Questions before committing mistakes:

The relation between punishments and mistakes has very intriguing for most of us. Different degrees of mistakes happens in case of rewards and punishment. For example, When you attach a reward then the objectives becomes -'To achieve more' (no matter what the consequences be), and mistakes happen on the way so be the excellence.

And, when you attach punishment, opposite happens most of the time. 

But, it would be unfair to say the that, one should always attach rewards, and punishment have no role to play. We need punishments, because sometimes even a small mistake can cause unprecedented consequences. 

Questions during committing mistakes:

I think the argument for this post should have been started by defining - "What is a mistake?" (But I am lazy enough to not to rewrite the whole post again!!!)

Defining is very important here, because my definition of a mistake might be quite different from that of yours! So lets consider some standard definitions:

"A mistake is an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment causedby poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc."

"A mistake is an error." This is not a fully independent definition, so lets look for definition of an error- 

"The word error entails different meanings and usages relative to how it is conceptually applied. The concrete meaning of the Latin word error is "wandering" or "straying". To the contrary of an illusion, an error or a mistake can sometimes be dispelled through knowledge (knowing that one is looking at a mirage and not at real water doesn't make the mirage disappear). However, some errors can occur even when individuals have the required knowledge to perform a task correctly. Examples include forgetting to collect change after buying chocolate from a vending machine, forgetting the original document after making photocopies, and forgetting to turn the gas off after cooking a meal

What the HELL!!! Surely, Wiki was not serious while uploading that definition! (of course I am talking about the people who uploaded it on Wiki :) 

The definition goes on to saying,

"These slip errors can occur when an individual is distracted by something else."  

And that's where my mind clicked in! 

Questions after committing mistakes:

Evaluating your mistakes - We as humans are the only over-smart animals on planet earth! We call ourselves as rational animal. But in reality we are   rationalizing animals. We always (if not mistaken) try to rationalize our decisions. All of us. Every day. But I can show you how to spot when you’re rationalizing your decisions, and how to discover the real reasons behind your decisions. Then I will show you how to use this to ACTUALLY make rational decisions!

Let’s say you go to an electronics store, and a sales person talks you into buying a useless gadget that has a bazillion features you don’t need. Then you get home, and somebody asks you why you bought it.

You might well answer “Well it does this, and that, and it has this really cool feature, and look how useful THIS little bit is!”
And then you happily proceed to NOT use any of those features ever again after the first time you try them. This shows you that you didn’t really buy the gadget for those features.You bought it because you had a rush of emotions and you really WANTED that gadget at the store. And when someone points out you made a silly decision there, you rationalize with all the features to show you actually made a GOOD decision. And by this way you would never accept that you committed a mistake by buying that useless gadget! So there’s your first reason why we humans rationalize:
|"We rationalize to protect our ego"
But that’s not the only reason. Another reason is – we like to think we act rationally.  We like to think we make all our decisions based on logic. Or I should say that our all mistakes are based on rational decision making! 

Covering your mistakes - Ok. now as you have made a mistake so what? You can always cover them! But why we cover them? 

The answer to this question lies inside our minds. Our cognitive dissonance prevents us from taking accountability for mistakes, foolish beliefs, and hurtful behaviors with self justification.

What is Cognitive Dissonance? read - Understand Your Confirmations Biases: An Idea for Better Decision Making

Doing mistakes the right way (a deliberate choice!) - Can committing mistakes be a completely deliberate choice? Sometimes...yes. Mistakes are not that bad. Rather I would go on to saying that it gives an opportunity to learn a new way to know "how not to do something!" 

In the end, Being Wrong is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity—the way we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. The key here is not make same mistake again. Watch this insightful song by Moby (one of my favorite!):

Watch this funny video on making mistakes:

All of us have committed mistakes one way or other, but what is most important is the learning that we gain out of that experience. What has been your learning experience? 

Like this Post? Get free updates via email, click here

It is 18th of many posts written under "Idea to Ponder series".
  • Share On Facebook
  • Tweet This Post
  • Digg This Post
  • Save Tis Post To Delicious
  • Share On Reddit
  • Share On LinkedIn