“The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas at all”
said the famous Albert Einstein. Growing up most of us learn by experimenting, and mistakes are a part and parcel of that learning journey. Yet, as a general rule, most of us tend to shy away from committing them. This is partly because of the popular culture that glorifies perfectionism.
So let’s dig deeper to find out the underlying reasons behind this thought process. Evolution itself has made us humans very cautious of making mistakes. The world as we know it was not always the same. Even a hundred years ago life security was not guaranteed. Making mistakes often meant risking survival. Also, we have survived so many years of evolution only because we have lived in groups and adhered to their rules. Hence naturally, we tend to be conscious of what society holds as a gold standard and are easily influenced by it. However, we no longer live in the same world and we need to be more aware of ourselves to move beyond our natural fear.
So what exactly are the benefits of making mistakes? Let us understand through some real-life examples:
1. Deepen our knowledge
Remember when you learned to ride a bicycle as a kid? You must have first observed your friend or parent ride a bicycle, then try riding on your own for a short distance, practice for longer distances, even fallen down sometimes, yet kept trying till you could hit the roads. Over the years you might recall even having bicycle races with your friends. Similarly, in any other skill or life in general you will become an expert only after you’ve tried and learned relentlessly without being fearful of getting things wrong.
2. Give insights into our skills and interests
When we are young, our parents try to encourage us to do more and more activities. For example, we all did so many things like swimming, art, singing, dancing, etc when we were in school. That does not mean we pursued everything with equal interest. Yes, we might have embarrassed ourselves at times, but they were simply stepping stones towards knowing our interests and discovering our potential.
3. Remind us of our humanity
In this super-competitive world, we are expected to be the best in anything we do. But we must understand that not everybody is the same. We all can become our best selves only when we do what we do with interest and passion. We cannot be programmed to do everything right. We have our own likes, dislikes, and environmental factors that affect our functioning. Trying and making mistakes helps us remind ourselves that we are humans and not machines.
And here are some ways in which you can learn to embrace making mistakes:
1. Change your perspective
The world is more of how we look at things rather than what it really is. Similarly, we tend to look at mistakes as signs of incompetence. Try looking at them as ingredients of success. Without making mistakes you will miss out on so many important learnings. Every one of those will ultimately help you grow. Remember, anyone who is trying to do something new or be at the frontier is bound to make mistakes. So the next time, don’t hesitate to try the more difficult set of problems or apply for a highly competitive exam.
2. Focus on YOU
Focus your attention on bringing out the best in yourself rather than competing with others. This way you will not limit yourself to the capabilities of others and find newer avenues to excel. Accept your mistakes and own them. Focus on the long term. Think about where you want to be in 10 years and how these learnings are helping you get there. For example, when you are preparing for your board exams don’t worry so much about how much others have studied or what marks they are getting in their mock tests. Try to focus more on how many portions you have covered, what is the trend of your mock tests, and how close you are to your target score.
3. Balanced approach
Have a balanced way of looking at the world and how your life should be. The sole aim of your life cannot be proving your worth and competence to others. Once we understand this we can look beyond the conventional sense of achievements and also learn to appreciate more underrated things in life like health and personal happiness. This approach also leads to a more organic way to be successful rather than the one where we sacrifice everything else in order to achieve a particular end result. So, while preparing for your exams remember to still spend some time doing what you love and taking care of your health.
If you find these tips useful do share your thoughts with us in the comments below.