If this statement is true, then most of us are fools, because I am yet to come across anyone who, at some point of time or another, has not made the same mistake twice.
In an ideal world, it would be possible to learn from every mistake that we make, and never repeat them. In fact, in a perfect world it would be possible to learn from the mistakes that others make. But, unfortunately, the world we live in is hardly perfect.
For a variety of reasons, we are not even able to learn from our own mistakes every time. But, if we make a conscious effort, it is possible to reduce the occurrence of repeated mistakes.
i) Recognise and Accept mistakes. The first and the foremost thing is to be able to recognise that we have made a mistake. Many a times we are repeating our mistakes without even realising that we are making one. For example, a student who does not get good results consistently is likely to blame bad luck, or some such thing, for her bad performance. There is a good chance, however, that there is something wrong in the way the student is preparing for the exams. If the student never realises that she is making a mistake, she can never stop repeating it.
Sometimes, even when we realise that we have made a mistake we do not want to accept it, because accepting a mistake is likely to cause a loss of face in front of friends and peers. But, if we are not even ready to accept that we have made a mistake, there is hardly any chance that we will not repeat it.
ii) Pay attention to what others say about you. Most of the time, when others criticise us, we choose to ignore the criticism. We feel that we know ourselves best, and others have no right telling us what to do and what not to do.
Research has, however, proved that there is a part of us that even we don’t know exists. We should endeavour to know and understand this part of us as much as we can. Paying attention to what others say about us is a good way of doing that. We don’t have to take everything others say about us to heart, but if there is something that a lot of people are saying about us, we need to look into the reason for that. Maybe we are doing something wrong and not even realising it.
iii) Keep an eye out of missed opportunities. Before you let bygone be bygone, introspect and try to work out the other options you had when you made a mistake.
In management terms, this is called the opportunity cost. When you pick one decision over another, you are also letting go of the advantages that you could have gained if you had picked the other decision. If you keep an eye out for all the opportunities that present themselves, you will not only be able to avoid repeating your mistakes, but even make better decisions than your earlier ones.
iv) Learn from others mistakes. The following line is from Bernard shaw’s play, Saint Joan:
“Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?”
One can only understand the true extent of pain by actually feeling the pain. But, it is possible to empathise with others without actually having to suffer as they do. Therefore, empathising with others and learning from the mistakes of others is a smart thing to do, as it can help you avoid making the same mistakes..
In every culture and every society, there are people who suffer greatly because they fall prey to drugs, and even then newer people become victims of the menace every day. It is only because people do not pay enough attention to the mistakes of others, and allow themselves to commit the same mistakes.
v) Live in the present. Lastly, you have to live in the present. The fact that you made a mistake once does not mean that you are going to keep making the same mistake over and over again. If you fail once, you may feel scared, and you you may feel that you will fail again, but every attempt should be treated as a new attempt and the past should be left where it belongs – in the past.
Everyday is a new day, and everyday brings with it opportunities and chances that you can grab hold of to achieve your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you from doing that.
How do you think can we avoid repeating our mistakes?
(Image courtesy: Cieleke from sxc.hu)