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Why are we afraid to make mistakes?

I recently saw this article and found the following paragraph: "In science, you make your mistakes in public. You show them off so that everybody can learn from them. This way, you get the benefit of everybody else's experience, and not just your own idiosyncratic path through the space of mistakes."


While i'm not sure that all scientists share their mistakes so that others can learn form them, i was wondering why we're afraid to make mistakes at work, for instance? Is it because we are told that mistakes are not tolerated? Could it be our education, from our family and school, that mistakes should be avoided at all cost or hidden when they happen?

Topics: failure mistakes

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    May 30 2013: There is uncertainty about what happens when we fail. And as we grow older, we eventually have an empirical observation that mistakes can deprive us of what we currently have (job, money, time, freedom, trust, or even life). Taken together, these lead to fear of failure.
    Another reason that people are unwilling to dare to take a risk is the lack of motivation and incentive. When people are feeling comfortable with their present situations and little can be obtained by accomplishing something, they won't tackle a new challenge so that they never make a mistake.
    • W T 100+

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      May 30 2013: In the end of your explanation you state:

      "they won't tackle a new challenge so that they never make a mistake".

      This sounds like Pride...............perhaps people who are not afraid of making mistakes are humble?
      • May 30 2013: To me, that phrase also sounds like creating a sense of 'security'... If you never take a risk, you never risk failure, right?
        • W T 100+

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          May 30 2013: Right!!

          Earlier I was thinking that the biggest mistake one could make in life, is to be afraid of making a mistake.

          I remember from a conversation long long ago here on TED about fear, that someone made the connection between fear, and total paralysis.

          Perhaps there are varying degrees of fear.
          Perhaps our brain, if not in balance, could make us think that the best choice/decision is not to make choices/decisions.

          Again, another complex conversation about a multi-layered topic.....lots and lots to discuss here Lizanne.

          Oh that I had time to sit and type and ask questions of each of the TEDsters posting.

          Simply speaking, I feel that there is not one answer to the OP's question.

          As they say GTG.....got-to-go....

          I'll come back later and add some more thoughts.

          Mary :)
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          May 31 2013: I think mindset does matter, as both of you suggested. Greedy people tend to pursue an apparently appropriate choice to maximize their nearsighted benefits. This converges in a rather conservative strategy even though it might look offensive to others, and such people will never admit their mistakes because doing so will shatter their honor and pride. In contrast inquisitive persons are inclined to try something new, and when faced with a difficulty, they humbly accept the fact.
      • Jun 1 2013: You could also add fear to that list.

        Fear of losing what they have accumulated, fear of having to start again.

        But conversely that fear can be a good thing, because it makes you balance the equation.

        Every wonder why there are more younger drunk drivers than others age groups? Diverging a bit into neuroscience, which has a fair part to play.
        • W T 100+

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          Jun 1 2013: Ok, why? Why are there more younger drunk drivers than other age groups?

          And although fear plays a role, I don't think it is fear that keeps people from trying new ideas or taking initiatives at work.

          I think it has to do with getting away with the minimum effort.
          Why work more if you don't have to.
    • W T 100+

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      May 31 2013: Yes, mindset is definitely a part of it all.

      I also think by mindset, we may even include "personality type" as well.

      I have seen enough TED videos on psychology, and read enough books, to realize that certain individuals go through life thinking a certain way due to their personality.

      I will stop there. I don't want to open pandora's box.

      Thank you for the reply and the insightful explanation Tomoshige.
    • Jun 1 2013: Sad for those poor, stagnant people; like mice on a treadmill.

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