Should You Learn From Your Mistakes or Others'? | Motive In Motion

Should You Learn From Your Mistakes or Others’?

Would you like to cut years off of your learning curve?

You must learn from mistakes in the most detailed way you can. If you hate idle time, stagnation, and waste then you will benefit from what I’m about to say.

Learning from mistakes is one of the most important tools to push you forward. However…

All types of people will tell you how failure is a necessary evil, how you must make many mistakes to succeed, and that you can’t succeed without failures.

Only some of this is true.

Only some people ever know how to learn from mistakes.

So how can we acquire the right knowledge of how to learn from failure?

While learning and salvaging something from every setback is absolutely crucial, you don’t have to make as many mistakes as you think.

Learning from your mistakes is a great thing, when you do make them.

An even better thing is learning from the many mistakes of the countless other successful people so you don’t have to make as many yourself. 

Failing for the sake of failing is pointless.

You don’t need to take my word for it; you can listen to one of the wealthiest men in America:

“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” – Warren Buffett

And from a successful comedian and writer:

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Sam Levenson

How to Learn From Mistakes

To understand the potency of not making all of your own mistakes, it’s essential to recognize the striking similarity between the desire, behavior and habits of most humans.

This is important because if you’re seeing some quality that is familiar to you in someone else, you’re really witnessing it inside yourself. You understand deeply what that person is going through or who they are. You don’t need to find every way things cannot work out. It’s already been done.

The same applies when you learn from others’ mistakes, since we are so intertwined as a species and everything is connected, you can peer into the experience of others and gain insight.

You also are able to offer valuable insight to others by offering what has and hasn’t worked for you. This aids in producing a more effective society or community as a whole.

Which one do you suspect to prosper quicker?

The small friend group that never shares truth and knowledge, just their personal opinions?

Or the mastermind that is freely sharing ideas, plans, goals, and their personal setbacks?

Which tribe is likely to thrive the most, the one in which each person hoards all resources and never shows his fellow man the best hunting spots?

Or is it the one that freely is sharing knowledge, tools, technology and information?

It’s easy to see why we can gain from others’ information, experiences and losses.

Their misfortune thankfully paves the way for us to not need to repeat the same. In turn, our misfortune provides them insight on what not to do as well.

How to Learn From Failure

We are very adaptable and can simulate well. The better we step into these abilities, the more successful we will actually be.

We don’t need to walk out into the street and get hit by a bus to know we shouldn’t.

We do not need to walk into fire to know what that would feel like.

We know we shouldn’t drive into other cars just to see if a crash would happen.

The answers are self-evident. This is because we can simulate what would likely happen, and since we see each of those have negative outcomes, we do not need to experience them firsthand.

The same is true for failure. You can always learn from others’ failures.

You want to have the goal to make somewhere around 5-10% of the mistakes that most other people make. Don’t fall into the bracket of the average person who believes you need to make every mistake on your own to learn.

That is the most inefficient way to learn from mistakes. You can measure that in time spent, energy spent, and morale lost. The average person only has to fail at something three times to give up for good.

Either keep pushing through that third failure, or don’t even get there in the first place. You do this by learning from mistakes of others.

Learn what colossal mess-ups that others have made, simulate the outcome for your own life in the way you would a car crash, and then maneuver your way around it.

* Important note: When you’re learning from the mistakes of others, you will want to go straight to the top.

Don’t waste your time with habitual mistake-makers, people who don’t learn from what they did, or people who have never achieved anything in life. If you listen to these people, it will actually work in the opposite direction that you want it to.

Learn From Failures Of Yours AND Learn From Others’ Mistakes

Learning from mistakes is a necessary part of achieving your goals, but these accidents do not all have to be yours. In fact, you should learn from others’ mistakes more than you do your own.

You don’t have the time to waste to make them all yourself. You can’t afford that type of time, because it’s very expensive and wasteful.

Do the smart thing. Learn from mistakes in all ways.

Always be learning from mistakes of others to minimize your own. Go through life with a constant critique of how to do better and push yourself further.

However, do not get hung up on what you don’t achieve, or let this affect your self-image in any way.

Expect to win some and lose some.

Your perspective on the loss is what makes the difference. A loss is just a temporary setback or learning opportunity.

You can either win or learn, but there is no real failure unless you quit.

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2 Replies to "Should You Learn From Your Mistakes or Others’?"

  • Hey Evan,

    Great article. Learning from others mistakes is definitely one of the fastest ways to shortcut the process and achieve rapid growth.

    For myself, I’ve found that it’s an acquired skill that has taken time to develop. It wasn’t until I became “consciously aware”, so to speak, that I noticed the behavior patterns of the people around me. Once I did, however, I learned at a much more rapid rate. It was almost as if I had hacked the matrix and was seeing things from a different perspective.

    Does any of that resonate with you?


    • Ben,

      Absolutely – paradigm shifts are potent.

      When you notice which failures could be detrimental to you, you’re more likely to avoid them. It only takes one or two major “failures” to recognize the importance of side-stepping them.

      Failure does not exist if you never quit.

      If you read Motive In Motion, you never quit so there are no failures!

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