On learning from mistakes

- education

“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes."

-Warren Buffett

This one’s always been a bee in my bonnet. It inspired a rather neurotic energy and sense of behind-ness. So many biographies to read, so many interviews to listen to. But having given myself chances to make my own mistakes in recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion: you can’t learn from others mistakes until you’ve first begun to learn from your own. Learning from your own mistakes offers meta-lessons that learning from others’ does not. It must come first. Through learning from your own mistakes, you grow in humility, humor, gentleness, forgiveness and patience with both yourself and others.

Once you’ve been forced to recognize (you tend to have to get forced) your own propensity to screw or be a complete pighead, you may finally gain the ability to learn from others’ mistakes. Unless you know from your own experience that it could have been you screwing up in this other guy’s place, you will quietly look down on his folly more than you’ll actually learn from it. Any specific tactical takeaway from someone else’s mistake pales in comparison to the qualities you find in yourself when you learn from your own mistakes.

What are the mistakes that shaped you?