How to learn from mistakes quickly

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Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human. You can use this fact to your advantage. Mistakes are painful, but who you synthesis the information can be a tool of unimaginable power.

There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes

The truth is that you learn very quickly from mistakes. Have you ever touched a hot stove? What happened? Well, if the stove was hot enough, you likely burnt your hand in the process. Touch is a hot stove is a mistake. You only have to go through this scenario once to beware of hot stoves.

As you approach a stove, do your senses heighten? Do you get a reminder of something that’s hot in your mind? If you do, guess what? You learned this lesson. It didn’t take you hundreds of times touching a hot stove to learn this.

The secret is the process of learning not to touch a hot stove is transferable to other lessons. You just have to set yourself of failure in a way that allows learning but avoid scenarios that completely remove the ability to learn in the future.

An example that stifles the ability to learn quickly

You see poker on TV and see a lot of people making millions of dollars. You think to yourself, hmm, that’s a lot of money. How do I get in on that? You think, what if I become a poker coach? I can make money doing this you say.

Now the question is how do you become good enough to have the credentials to coach people. A simple solution is this. If you beat the best poker player in the world, you can use this as credentials. You also will have many stories to share this gives insight into how you beat the game. With practice and your advice, they may be to duplicate your success at their home game or local casino.

Great, I need to beat the pros. I have to earn my credentials immediately you say. You go to the big game with a large amount of money. Hours later you leave the poker table of pros with no money. What happened? You learn a lesson and you failed. However, going against people really good will stifle learning in many cases.

The better route would be to start at a lower level and work your way up to the pros. Yes, this is slower. Sometimes you win and sometimes you will lose at the table. If you are studious you learn after every mistake. This is the opposite path that doesn’t stifle learning.

learning-by-tima-miroshnichenko
Learning by Iima Miroshnichenko

What does poker have to do with business?

To be successful at poker, you have to understand risk and manage resources efficiently. If you don’t, you’ll have less opportunity to learn because your resources belong to someone else due to decisions that stifle growth. In other words, you lost all your money to play the game.

Poker gives you a blueprint of a structured learning process. You can take this framework and overlay this in a different problem space.

What is structured learning?

It is the learning of those skills, concepts, information, habits or whatever which lend themselves to being clearly analysed beforehand. In this way they can be presented economically and efficiently to the student.

Principles of structured learning | SpringerLink

We are all students of life. Every day, believe it or not, we learn something. We make assumptions, perform actions, and make observations. We do this many times in a day. Think about all the assumptions, actions, and observations you make when you brush your teeth, drive to work, or go for a walk. It’s not top of mind but you’re experiencing this process more than you think.

When we decide to clearly state what we believe will happen for any action, and we learn from what we observed, this is the key to learning quickly from mistakes.

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