Ger’s Learning notes #24
Learning from failure and mistakes
Which mistake that you ever made felt like a catastrophic failure at the time but, upon reflection, was a huge learning opportunity? I remember many of my mistakes very well. Let me share one with you.
It was during a training on communication skills that I delivered to a group of 10 engineers. After the first introductions, I announced that the next part after the break would be one-on-one conversation exercises. I announced that the exercises would be video-recorded for review and feedback. One guy got a bit nervous and told me he wasn’t in for that. I knew this would happen - it always did - so I knew how to handle this. I told him not to worry, that many others before him told me so but, in the end, experienced the video review as the best learning experience.
I thought I handled it quickly and professionally. But during the break, he came to me to discuss this once more. He told me that he had been part of the United Nations (UN) Army and, while doing his service, had been a prisoner of war (POW). The enemy held him in hostage for 10 days. Most of the time, they pointed a video camera on him from one side and a Kalashnikov automatic rifle on the other! He told me being on camera could provoke ‘a reaction I cannot predict but, in general, not very positive’. I thanked him for being honest to me about this and apologized for not taking his first message seriously. Be careful with your assumptions, Ger, and check them, Ger! I was embarrassed but nothing like this happened to me ever again.
Sometimes, you win, sometimes you learn…
(1) Shifting the stigma from learning from mistakes
Bethany and Jo took a deep dive into exploring the different aspects of learning from mistakes. They covered the negative emotional part, alternative mindsets, language and practical approaches to benefit the most from learning from mistakes.
Why read it?
Learn how these interesting, (very) rich companies look at learning and which principles they use.
Find concrete examples and links to more background details to understand some of the approaches in detail (so you might apply them yourself).
See where learning approaches might be heading in the near future and check if these approaches can be helpful in your situation (be critical!).
Professor Paul Iske got interested in the positive side of failure and started to gather all kinds of interesting examples. He then created an institute around it, offering examples, background info and approaches to make the best out of brilliant failures.
Why read it?
Listen to CFO (Chief Failure Officer!) Paul Iske, who explains the importance of brilliant failures and the mindset needed for that.
Learn about the 16 archetypes of failure that help you identify, categorize and learn most from them.
Get access to their database of some very interesting cases and find other tools and services the institute has to offer.
Corporate Rebels created the idea of how to celebrate failure and mistakes via the ‘Fuck-up night’ approach, a TEDx, Pecha Kucha-like event approach. Check three websites that give an overview of a worldwide movement (including a free ebook!).
Why read it?
The first link is to the Corporate Rebels’ blog post where they explain the initiative of celebrating failure and Fuckup Nights.
The second link is to the Fuckup Nights homepage, and it gives a good overview of the worldwide movement. Don’t forget to download the free ebook!
The third website is that of the Failure Institute, presenting many cases and examples.