How to Learn From Your Mistakes

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Scenario: "Dude, let's analyze why we sucked. Then we'll ensure we'll never do it again. Yay!" "Failing forward" drives you to kick more ass because it pushes you toward greatness -- every step of the way. When you embrace mistakes, you seek every opportunity to learn some frickin more. The faster you overcome those mistakes, the more you'll boost your knowledge. Yet, there's:

  1. Badass falls
  2. Lame-o falls

The differences, respectively:

  1. Falling forward 10 feet
  2. Falling forward 1 foot

You can embrace all those mistakes you want, and -- sure, you might learn sumthin-sumthin. But... You'll learn much faster/fuller/awesomer by applying what you learned -- immediately.

How Not to Learn

Take Patty.

  • Patty sells TVs to her tight-knit Morgan Hill community.
  • Wal-Mart came to town months earlier, and she finds her cash gradually dwindling.

"Learn from your mistakes!" she reads from a motivational book. So, she does -- somewhat:

  • "I can't compete against Wal-Mart."
  • "I must provide services where I can beat them indirectly."
  • "I can complement their services."

"I'll apply those lessons when I get the chance, because I have to take care of some business first!" And then when she does get the chance, for some strange-oh-reason -- she instead reverts back to her past:

"I'll continue selling my TVs, since I have a 'good feeling' everything will be okay." she goes. "Besides, I've been successful for the last ten years; I can be successful for the next decade as well."

Ten months later: She's filing for bankruptcy protection. Kaput.

"Wait! But I would've done things differently!"

Consciously, we all think we would; but, most of us probably wouldn't. The psychological effect from that: Humans hate change.

  • We go to the same barbers, eat at the same restaurants, watch movies at the same venues, stay in the same city/town/suburb/state for decades, yadda, yadda, yadda -- because we seek our 'comfort zones' whenever possible.

What's safe for us is good for us, we think.

  • "If it's worked for me in the past, it'll work for me again!"

So when we think we've "learned" from our mistakes, we'll quickly return to our old selves -- resisting change. And, accepting mediocrity. How do you prevent that?

Apply What You've Learned, Immediately

Repeat this !@^^%^ until you've gone loco:

  • "I've really learned crap until I've applied what I've learned."
  • "I've really learned crap until I've applied what I've learned."
  • "I've really learned crap until I've applied what I've learned."

Apply It Good

  1. "Limited cash flow is wrecking my startup!" Start flagging complementary opportunities with shorter sales cycles.
  2. "My productivity ain't helping my future!" Learn one fabulous productivity tip (e.g. from David Allen, Lifehacks.org, etc.), and use it within two minutes.
  3. "We're screwing up our goals! It's why we suck so bad!" Enact this sucka: 'If we don't meet our goals, we forfeit 10% of our salaries to retraining.'

Consciously apply you've learned as soon as you've learned it, and you'll go one frickin' long way in failing forward 9098509482502 feet like the crazed mofo you really are.

Learn. Apply.

 

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Posted on June 12

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