It is a common phrase, used in many circumstances to add a positive note to what may be negative: learn from one’s mistakes. We all make them, though we do not always recognize that something was a mistake until it’s too late – or perhaps not at all. However, when a mistake is brought home, with consequences to the person making the mistake, it seems useful to make a point of understanding where we went wrong and how we might avoid a recurrence of that problem. Think of when, as a child, you may have touched a hot burner on an electric stove or put your hand too close to a flame in the fireplace? Did you repeat that mistake or did you remember that burn you received?
Some of us, and you probably do not know who you are, go blithely through life making the same mistakes over and over again. Now, it is one thing when the person making a mistake suffers some adverse consequence but quite another when that mistake has a negative impact on others whose only mistake was having some connection with the person making it. Now the failure to learn from the error is more serious.
Over the years, I have encountered a number of people who have made a mistake – perhaps because of a lack of knowledge or because of carelessness while hurrying to get something done. You might be surprised how some of them will make the exact same mistake again and again, seemingly unable to understand that if an action was wrong before it is very likely going to be wrong again. How can you not learn? What is it in a person that allows them to block out the negative consequence and be open to experiencing it again?
If you are thinking of hiring an employee or entering into some other relationship with a person, consider how they handle their mistakes. It can be very telling and might prevent YOU from making a mistake.