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Learn From your Mistakes

Learn From Your Mistakes

Learn From Your Mistakes

For most people, one of the most difficult things to do is to accept criticism from other people. Most people's attitude to criticism from other people is, in effect, "Who the hell are you to tell me what is right and wrong? Get lost!"

But the point that I would like to make, in this blog is that: you should welcome criticism. Criticism is good for you. Criticism is a high value item. If you cannot, will not or do not accept valid criticism, then you will never grow much beyond your present level of development.

Criticism is negative feedback

If you don't like criticism, then I would like you to change your attitude towards criticism.

Most people, upon hearing a criticism of their performance, or work, have a negative emotional response. That negative emotional response to the criticism will take one of three common forms.

  1. Some people get annoyed or angry when they hear someone criticising their performance.
  2. Some people get upset and disheartened when they hear someone criticising their performance.
  3. Some people get aggressive when they hear someone criticising their performance and they immediately try to think of some counter criticism of the other person's performance.

The correct response to criticism is not to get angry, not to get upset, not to argue, but instead, to get curious!

When you hear a criticism of your performance, get curious and then take the following steps, in the order given.

  1. Listen carefully to the negative feedback message, the criticism. Take careful mental notes.
  2. Thank the other person for their critical comments!
  3. Then ask yourself: "Is that criticism of my performance true, or at least partially true?"
  4. Then ask yourself, "If that criticism is true (or partially true) what does it mean for my future?"
  5. Then ask yourself, "What adaptive changes do I need to make in my current performance to improve my future chances of success?"
  6. Then you need to generalise from the individual instance of error and try to make a universal refinement in your general approach to your work; which means......
  7. You learn from your mistakes.

For example:

If you told me, "Chris, you have made of mess of this document: You have made six spelling mistakes and you have used the word, "principal", where I think you meant "principle". This is not really good enough. Would you please, take more care over your spelling and make sure that even if the word is spelled correctly, that you have used the correct word."

Now how do you think I should take that message, emotionally?

  • Should I get angry? No.
  • Should I get upset and depressed? No.
  • Should I tell the other that HE makes spelling mistakes in HIS documents too. I've seen plenty. So he has no right to criticise me! No.

I should first of all: Thank the other person. Then I should check to see if his comment is accurate, meaning: have I spelled certain words incorrectly and have I used the wrong words?

If so, I ask myself what are the painful consequences of mis-spelling words and using the wrong words? I would quickly come to the conclusion that such errors may cost me.

I make the necessary corrections to the text.

Then, I try to derive the general principle from the specific instance: meaning I try to make a general rule which, in this case, would be, "Be more careful when writing. Check spelling and check again for correct wording. Spell checker does NOT reveal all errors".

I try to learn from every valid criticism

Would you please try to learn from every piece of valid criticism?

When you are criticised try to train yourself to: Not get angry. Not get upset. Not to argue.

But rather to: Listen carefully. Thank the person for the criticism. Ask yourself if the criticism is true, or at least partially true. If it is true, then think of what it means to your future prospects. And then make the necessary changes to that specific case and then, make a new rule in your rule book that will make all your future performances, that much better.

Learn from your mistakes.


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