Are Mistakes Truly a Teaching Opportunity?

Recently, I’ve written a few posts about mistakes and their significance in our learning.

However, it seemed to me that we only ever learn from our own mistakes and that other people’s mistakes, which should be a valuable source of learning, appear to be of little value.

When others make mistakes outside of our field, we frequently say to ourselves, “How foolish, why did he do that?” We rarely think, “That’s a terrific lesson,” and instead presume that we would never do something similar.

It also got me thinking about lessons learned reports, I have written hundreds of them, but I don’t think I have ever read or been offered a lessons learned report that’s been written by anyone else.

When joining new companies they should provide us with a handbook of common mistakes made, so we could learn from them.

However, I do doubt that they would be read.

This isn’t just restricted to professional life, it’s also true of our private lives too.

Our parents could teach us so much from their mistakes, but it seems each generation has to make the same mistakes themselves in order to learn.

I distinctly remember my father telling me he wouldn’t do it that way before just before I made a complete mess on several occasions. And as all things are with my own father, I know of several occasions on which I have tried to let my own son benefit from my multitude of learnings from what were often painful mistakes, but to no benefit.

If anyone has a solution to this please let me know.

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