Making the Right Mistakes

Are You Making the Right Mistakes?

Who’s wealthier, A or B?

A. Bill Gates as we know him despite the mistakes Microsoft has made in software development and its legal defence?

B. An alternative-world Bill Gates who instead of founding Microsoft finished Harvard (with high honors) and became a world-class, bug-free programmer?

#A, right? The concept of Bill Gates writing perfect computer code probably made some of you techies laugh. But the “perfect coder” Bill Gates would not likely make more than $150,000 a year plus stock options, right? Few programmers make that much, perfect coders or not.

I made up this example to demonstrate a principle I’ve never seen described in self improvement and motivational works but which has been a great help (and — mostly — a comfort) to me.

The Law of Escalating Errors

Let’s recap.

Every decent self-improvement book or tape will teach you to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them, right?

What if you made all possible mistakes where you are working now, learned from them all and didn’t repeat them. You’d be perfect, right?

Wrong. You’d be Choice B Bill Gates, producing perfect software code and never knowing that in another universe our net worth is greater than 120 million Americans combined.

Choice A Our World Bill Gates makes mistakes. He’s probably made more mistakes than anyone else alive, and much bigger mistakes.

He’s the wealthiest person alive because he’ll never be perfect. He not only learns from his mistakes, he pushes himself to a higher level and makes NEW errors!

That’s the key to the The Law of Escalating Errors.

Yes, of course learn from your mistakes and as much as human possible don’t repeat them — but keep yourself rising to new levels of ambition, achievement, experience and development.

The Principle of Escalating Errors applies in all areas of our lives.

The first time you went out on a date, didn’t you make mistakes? As you gained experience you made fewer mistakes on first dates and eventually went steady . . . got engaged . . . got married . . . and some of you married again. You made mistakes every step of the way. You probably have many regrets but I’m sure you’re glad you didn’t take a vow of chastity after the embarrassments of your first date.

Making mistakes at a higher level of functioning is a sign of growth.

Of course, this does apply only to *higher* order mistakes. If you’re 25 and never smoked a cigarette and then you start to smoke, you’re not progressing. You’re making new mistakes at a lower level, not higher. That’s worse than standing still.

Some people like to refer to this processing of progressing through making higher order mistakes as “getting out of your comfort zone.”

I don’t like that much. It sounds so . . . uncomfortable. I’d rather emphasize progress, goal achievement, adventure, excitement and fun.

Whether it’s learning to play the piano, starting an Internet business , looking for a partner in love, traveling to Rio de Janeiro or doing many other of life’s great activities, the worse mistake you can do is . . .

Wouldn’t perfection be boring?

I hope I never make the mistake of not making the right mistakes.

Richard Stooker recently launched the ezine and
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