My Marketing lecturer at university told us all a story from his days in the private sector. At the time, he was working for one of Australia’s biggest corporations, and he ended up making a mistake which cost the company $800 000.
$800 000 – now that’s a lot of money!
Accepting that his time at the company was over, he went upstairs to hand in his resignation (= he wanted to leave the company).
Instead, his manager looked at him and said:
“Leave? You can’t leave now, we’ve just spent $800,000 training you!”
So he kept his job and stayed at the company. My lecturer said he had learnt a lot from this experience, and that those mistakes he made were part of the learning process.
Learning and making mistakes
When you make a mistake, see it in a positive way to improve how you are communicating
You can find a lot of quotes on the internet, such as ‘keep making mistakes’. It’s not precisely how I see it – I don’t walk out the door with the goal of making 10 new mistakes each day.
Rather, it’s about trying new things, making my world bigger, being comfortable with the fact that I will make mistakes.
Because they will happen, as surely as night follows day.
It’s more about growing. The mistakes you make are part of the feedback you get on how to make more progress.
And the idea is to keep on going even though you are making mistakes.
With this in mind, here are some ideas to look at on learning and making mistakes. Next time I’ll speak more directly about common mistakes you might be making in English – and even better, how to correct them so that you can improve.
11 winning ways to look at making mistakes
- Be comfortable with making mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t let the fear of mistakes make you stop doing what you want to do with your life.
- Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. As you get better, you’ll understand why you’re making certain mistakes, and with time, you’ll stop making these mistakes and then start making new ones 🙂
- When you make a mistake, see it in a positive way to improve how you are communicating
- Focus on the wider goal. Ask yourself if you achieved your desired outcome. For example, if you were negotiating a new contract with a supplier, were you able to come to an agreement? If so, even if you made some mistakes, you did well!
- Be open to receiving different kinds of feedback. Some English teachers will give you feedback on language-related mistakes, while the people you deal with at work or elsewhere will give you other kinds of feedback. For example, perhaps you wrote a letter that was correctly written, but the tone was not very polite. Take note of how the wider interaction is going.
- Be kind to yourself. Occasionally I have students who call themselves ‘stupid’ when making a mistake, but this attitude is not going to help you get better.
- Try new things! As part of learning, some things you do may not work out as you planned, but after some time, you’ll perform on a much higher level by taking risks and doing new things.
- Don’t hide or cover up your mistakes. Sure, you made a mistake, but don’t hide who you are or what you did. Take responsibility for it, and take action to improve the situation if need be. That’s the healthy way to deal with people and the challenges we face in life.
- People who are comfortable with themselves help interactions go more smoothly. Think of it the other way – how easy is it to talk to someone who’s nervous about making mistakes?
- Don’t be sorry. Quit apologising. Why do you need to apologise about your English 5 times in a conversation with an American you just met at a bar or club? See it positively – if it weren’t for you being able to speak in English, you two would not be talking to each other and swapping ideas, smiles, thoughts, and jokes right now!
- If you’re spending the time on learning English and being active in the language, and responding to the feedback you get, you’re going to get there! Enjoy the journey! Enjoy meeting new people from all over the world, appreciate the opportunity to be able to speak with millions of people all around the world! Enjoy!
Here are some more thoughts on mistakes – which of these Tweets do you most agree with?
I fall, I rise, I make mistakes, I live, I learn, I’ve been hurt but I’m alive. I’m human, I’m not perfect but I’m thankful.
— Love (@FIirting) June 1, 2013
@getintoenglish Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. (Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1869 – 1948)
— Stephen Thergesen (@stephentimothy) May 27, 2013
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
— SUCCESS magazine (@successmagazine) March 1, 2013
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