Monday, November 28, 2011

Is making a mistake a mistake?

When we make a mistake, we regret it and we try to correct it or, what often and maybe more often happens, we try to conceal it (which is as human as human is). That’s okay – I mean the regret, of course – and that you want to do it better is inherent in the meaning of the word. But are mistakes really so bad? Everybody knows the expression “We can learn from our mistakes” and so, mistakes have a positive side, too. However, there is more, for according to Stanford University psychologist Carol Deck – and I hope that he doesn’t blame me for the shortcut – people who make mistakes are more flexible than those who do not. Basically, so Deck, one can distinguish between people who have a fixed mindset and people with a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe that their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. The first type of people tries to gather stuff that supports their ideas, while the second type tries to develop their insights. But just the later kind of people has to try new things and by doing so they have to take chances. And then, you guess it, they run the risk of making mistakes. But this type of people has also a better awareness of their mistakes and what to do with them. Therefore they advance more than those with fixed mindsets (who, alas, often just are the persons with the biggest talents). Thus, open your mind, don’t fear mistakes and in the end you’ll profit by it. A bit like “reculer pour mieux sauter”, as they say in French.

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