Learning from your errors is an important principle in the self-improvement guidebook. If you can achieve that, you will be able to continue to develop and improve. However, many individuals find this very difficult. The same may be said for organizations. If a corporation wants to be creative, it must attempt many new things, abandon failed attempts, learn crucial lessons, and quickly move on. It seems simple, yet it is very challenging.
You're in the shower, resting in bed, or slogging along on the treadmill when you're overtaken with humiliation as if someone had just snapped their fingers. Your brain has chosen that it is time to revisit your most severe misstep, stupidest misstep, or most embarrassing mistake for reasons beyond your comprehension.
1. When starting over after a failure
Our failures remain with us. In principle, this may be a positive thing, as painful as it might be at times since remembering helps us avoid repeating our previous mistakes. But only if we improve post-failure will this work.
Recent research from the University of Chicago discovered that we often fail to learn from our failures. In fact, errors may actively impair learning: in five separate trials, when participants were informed they had made a mistake, they shut down and performed worse on the following tasks.
2. Effects of Feedback on the Self-Confidence
Willful blindness, according to Lauren Eskreis-Winkler, a researcher at the University of Chicago's Center for Decision Research and the study's co-author, is an act of self-preservation. “Failure is often seen as ego-threatening, and people tune out,” she explains. “As a consequence, they cease to learn.”
Eskies-Winkler and her co-author elaborated on this phenomenon in their paper, which was published in the journal Psychological Science: “According to several motivational theories, negative feedback lowers people's confidence in their overall ability to pursue their goals, as well as their general expectations of success.”
“Failure increases worry and distraction,” says Sean Duffy, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University, Camden, who was not involved in the research. “Athletes may crumble under pressure, particularly if they've previously made errors. Consider free throws: when someone misses the first one, they often clam up and miss the second one as well.”
3. Compartmentalize Your Emotions And Thoughts
That is not to mean you should completely forget about your blunders. “If individuals are driven to disregard their shortcomings, they will not attend to them and will not learn,” the research authors write.
However, there are several techniques you may do to ensure that you are not putting yourself up to the lessons of failure. One of the most important is to pretend it's happening to someone else.
“Perhaps you begin compartmentalizing because you don't want the loss to impact you,” Duffy suggests. Compartmentalization isn't always the best psychological notion, but it may keep you going ahead in this scenario.
4. Open your mind to failure
Eskies-Winkler and her co-author discovered that individuals do learn from the errors of others in their research. “Others' failings are not our failures,” Eskreis-Winkler explains. “As a consequence, they do not pose an ego danger. Distancing failure from the ego is one method for getting individuals to learn from failure.”
Another technique to have a more open mind about your failure is to purposely buffer any blunders with things you know you'll nail. For example, if you have a big job to complete but are unsure about one aspect of it, “give yourself chores you know you'll succeed at first,” according to Duffy. Those simple triumphs will put you in the correct frame of mind to learn from a later defeat if one is required.
5. Keep your ego in control
Duffy says, "If you're performing a postmortem on a professional failure, chop it up into bits." You may exclaim, 'Aha! I was good at gathering facts but not so good at writing.' List the components of complicated tasks in which you excel. When others criticize you, you often believe you have failed completely.”
However, if you can keep your ego in control, you will be able to think about your failure constructively, whether the criticism comes from others or from inside yourself.
Don't justify yourself. Quit expecting things to change for no reason. Accurately recognize what went wrong, and just keep trying. That's what life is all about: trying. The nicest thing about errors is that we've all made them, so there's no need to be embarrassed about them. Enjoy them and find a method to make learning from them enjoyable. Your blunders will quickly become commodities.