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Aug 24

Make mistakes……please!

One day an elderly woman who was parishioner at a church decided to make a huge mistake.  In the church there was a very old fresco, painted in the 19th century by the painter Elias Garcia Martinez. The fresco was tainted by time and moist and the image where rapidly deteriorating. The woman decided that she would repair it. When you see the result you can easily come to the same conclusion as she did. She did not have the skills and talent to bring this to a good ending and basically that it was a very bad idea. (source)

We are told that we must learn from our mistakes. It is important that we take risks. Without mistakes there is no way to improve upon our selves. We would simply keep doing the same things over and over again without getting somewhere. But sometimes we somehow know that we are going to make mistakes even before we even started to do so. You can feel it in every fiber of your body when you see it coming. A tingle in your stomach just before you press enter or say something that you know you should not say.

Why is that? In 1978 Carol I. Diener and Carol S. Dweck did research about failure by doing some tests with children. They provided these children with puzzles. First easy and slowly raising the bar. Most of these kids where running against their own barriers. The puzzles became too difficult to solve and they gave up. They did not like to show that they did not know, so they thought up al sorts of excused. “This puzzle is to hard” or “I’m getting confused” or “I need to be somewhere else”. Basic excuses for not digging in and at least try. But surprisingly there a few of these kids that loved the challenge. Even when they reached the point where they got puzzles that where impossible to solve, they where asking for more. The researchers discovered something very interesting. These kids where eager to learn and grow. They accepted the fact that in order to grow you have to push yourself beyond you limits and expose yourself and your mistakes.

So, we know this. Then why are we not doing this in our professional world? Why is it that most people protect them selves from making mistakes by either a huge risk management plan of some sort. Or by just not go there and stay in the safe zone. And when they do make mistakes their superiors punish them. They get bad personal reviews. They must work late to solve the mistakes. Or even worse, they are taken of the project. We also protect ourselves from making mistakes because we know we get slapped on the wrist. As a professional in any kind of job you are not allowed to make mistakes. The higher the job and the higher the responsibility, the less you can make mistakes.

Going back to the woman in the church. Did she do a good job? Definitely no. She knew this and I doubt that she did what she did in order to learn from it. She must have had that tingling gut feeling when she applied the first stroke of paint. But there is something in that feeling that we should be aware of. Every once in a while we must seek that gut feeling and step over the safety line in order to learn and grow. It isn’t easy and sometimes it does hurt. But if we are willing to move on and learn from out mistakes, we should be entitled to do so. Off course you must stay within your field of expertise and not go and repaint your local church. But try to change your mindset about moving on. It is possible and it leads to results.

 The successful kids didn’t just live with failure, they loved it! When the going got tough, they didn’t start blaming themselves; they licked their lips and said “I love a challenge.” They’d say stuff like “The harder it gets the harder I need to try.”

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  • Maurice le Rutte

    You never know what kind of side-effects you get from these mistakes. For example, the village and church are now swamped by tourists who want to have their own look at the ‘ruined’ fresco. They would never had had all these visitors if this didn’t happen.

    • There is alway a chance that something good will come out of mistakes. In this case art critics and lovers will raise funds to restore the fresco. This is a good example of a perfect accident

  • It has started to live a life of it’s own