Making Mistakes Can Be Great!

source: Deposit Photos © iqoncept

Source: Deposit Photos © iqoncept

You might recall one my last videos and the related blog post about what it actually means to fail.

Now, if you watched that you’ll know that fail doesn’t really mean ‘fail’, it actually means ‘First Attempt in Learning’. In fact, the only time you really fail is when you give up or quit – not when you keep going after the first attempt.

And this is actually what I further build on briefly in this latest video, because it turns out that it’s actually a good thing to fail a few times – something that’s taken me a few years to come to grips with and which I’m now fully understanding myself. Because making mistakes can actually be great.

To watch the video on YouTube, click here.

Now, I’d already begun to understand this as a result of reading the book ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’ by Maxwell Maltz MD, which I’ve mentioned in previous videos. However, there was a great article in the Times which I read a few weeks back which reinforced this, which was basically about advice for parents seeking to develop their children without being too pushy. It was actually based on a book by leading clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller called ‘Unlocking Your Child’s Genius’.

The article listed a number of Fuller’s strategies that parents can adopt, and this included not trying to put right every mistake a child makes. Basically, the problem with this approach is that if you try to correct every mistake a child makes, it can actually increase their anxiety about making them in the first place and create a negative learning mind-set.

However, it is actually a central part of the genius mind-set that, if mistakes are made, they are not seen as a failure but instead as a learning opportunity upon which to develop a better solution (just like the ELC I mentioned in my previous post, which you can check out here.)

The article actually quoted the example of James Dyson, who apparently created 5,127 prototypes of his famous vacuum cleaner before getting it right. And he actually stated that he learnt from every one of those errors.

Now this is certainly something which is not unique amongst famous genius scientists. You might recall that I mentioned in my previous video about Thomas Edison who famously failed 1000 times before succeeding?

Indeed, Andrew Fuller actually suggested that one strategy parents could do to get their children to learn from their mistakes and grow is to think of themselves as being like a scientist in everything they do, as science is not really about making mistakes but experimenting to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Also, Fuller made the point that it’s also important not to be critical of mistakes that children make, but instead actively encourage them to think about approaching the problem from another angle then give them praise for doing so. This is a massively powerful way of being able to boost their confidence when it comes to learning.

To be honest, I think parents should definitely take notice of approaches such as this, because it’s in childhood where our characteristics and mind-sets are formed. So having the right guidance and support is absolutely essential for children embarking on the learning process.

However, I also think this applies to adults as well – especially if we happen to have been deprived of this type of learning support as children and where we might have been unduly criticised when we were going through the learning process ourselves.

In fact, I think this is an essential learning point for instructors and trainers to take on board when dealing with participants on training courses. (Please note: this must not diminish and should not impact, in any way, the importance of safety when instructing delegates in physical skills such as break-away and self-defence etc. There is still a duty of care and vicarious liability on the part of the instructor to ensure safety in accordance with relevant legislation.) However, perhaps we too should be encouraging our learners to think like scientists when they are learning a new skill or technique in slow-time and under control, so that they can progress and develop themselves.

Not only that, if you are looking to achieve and succeed, think of yourself as a scientist who is experimenting with life itself and trying out different things to see what will and won’t work. It’ll increase your chances of succeeding and improve your confidence immensely in the process.

So that about wraps it up. If you have any questions about this video and/or post, or any of the subjects covered in the other posts here, then you’re very welcome to contact me on and I’ll try and answer them as best as I can.

References/further reading:

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz MD, Perigee Books, Updated expanded edition 2015 – can be purchased via Amazon here:

Unlocking your Child’s Genius by Andrew Fuller, Vermillion, 2016 – can be purchased via Amazon here:

What It Means To Fail…

Experiential Learning

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