Friday, August 13, 2021

The Biggest Mistake


Have you heard this quote from Albert Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?"  I have had many roles where I have had to mentor people, such as corporate supervisor, professor, and parent.  One thing I always emphasize, is that its good to make mistakes, just don't keep making the same ones over and over again.  

This is a really difficult lesson to learn.  So much of how we evaluate ourselves today is about immediate results; instant gratification.  We see others doing thing that look easy, and we assume that we can do those things too, if we just applied ourselves.  But then you try, it gets hard, and you give up.  Often moving on to the next fun, interesting thing.  The mistake here is not trying something new and failing, its not sticking with it long enough to have actually learned a new skill.  

If this is something you are required to do (as part of a job) or something you know you should be doing better (like procrastinating less), you will likely attempt to master the same task again.  Unfortunately, by failing at the same thing so many times in the past, you now have a neural pathway that leads to the same poor result.  There are two solutions to this problem.  

First, you work hard to follow through on new tasks, and develop techniques to indicate when you have mastered them.  Set goals that are specific and measurable so you know when you have achieved them.  Learn something more than "surface-deep" and become an expert.  This takes time and focus. People will tell you this requires passion on the topic, but I have found that most people grow a passion for something once they have mastered it.  Because the process of teaching yourself a skill this way is very rewarding!  Often you will work very hard with few demonstrable results as you are in the learning stage.  Stick with it.  At some point, you will build up enough expertise to teach someone else this skill, and to answer their questions.  The more wins you have like this in life, the happier and more confident you will be.  The more positive you feel, the more likely you are to act.   

OK, so you may be saying that there are external people or factors that are keeping me from achieving my goals.  For problems of this nature, think about what you are really trying to achieve, and try to look at it from a new perspective.  This usually involves a thought pathway that is not about you and your needs directly, but about how you can facilitate someone else to act to help get you to where you want to go.  This again, is hard, because you will probably have to compromise what you want in the short term, to encourage long term results.  Often getting people to do what you need requires a lot of charm and persistence.

Check out my post, Am I Lazy? and How to Earn Respect where I talk about some of these same ideas.

What is an example of a mistake that you keep making over and over again?  How can you view this from a different perspective to create a new result? 

Daily Writing Response 12/300


Only to set the same goal again to repeat the same process. The easiest place to see this is with weight loss, how many time have people lost and gained the same 10 pounds.  But I see this in parenting, and corporate work too.


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