Tip #598: Making the Best Mistakes- Part Two

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

According to Eduardo Briceno, the CEO of Mindset Works, there are four types of mistakes that are most useful in the learning process. These four mistakes are: stretch mistakes, aha-moment mistakes, sloppy mistakes and high-stakes mistakes.

This Tip will focus on the second type of mistake: aha-moment mistakes, as described by Mr. Briceno:

“Another positive type of mistake, but one that is harder to strive or plan for, is the aha-moment mistake.

This happens when we achieve what we intend to do, but then realize that it was a mistake to do so because of some knowledge we lacked which is now becoming apparent. There are lots of examples of this, such as:

  • When we lack the content knowledge: e.g. not finding water, we try to extinguish a fire with alcohol, which we didn’t realize is flammable.
  • When we find there is more nuance than we realized: e.g. in our painting, we color a sun near the horizon as yellow, and later notice that the sun does not always look yellow.
  • When we make incorrect assumptions: e.g. we try to help someone else, thinking that help is always welcome, but we find out that the person did not want help at that moment.
  • When we make systematic mistakes: e.g. a fellow educator observes us doing a lesson and later points out, with compelling back-up data, that we tend to call on Caucasian girls much more often than we do other students.

When we misremember: e.g. we call a friend for their birthday on the right date, but the wrong month.

We can gain more aha-moments from mistakes by being reflective. We can ask ourselves:

  • What was unexpected?
  • Why did that result occur?
  • What went well and what didn’t?
  • Is there anything I could try differently next time?

We can also ask people around us for information we may not be aware of, or for ideas for improvement.”

Whenever I have participants practice a new skill or apply new knowledge, my debriefing questions are typically:

  1. What went well- and why?
  2. What did not go well- and why not?
  3. Based on this experience, what will you need to keep in mind when you do this in the future?

Now I know that these reflective questions generate aha-moments!

How do you generate aha-moments from mistakes?

May your learning be sweet.


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