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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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  • Jun 3 2013: In my opinion the reason we hide our failures is society, fame, greed, envy and pride.

    I think part of the reason why we don't want to admit mistakes or even risk making them, is losing face. When people know you make mistakes, you might lose your place in a hierarchy. Even if that is not the case, what people see and experience in their daily life is exactly that. People who fail are not celebrated or supported, they are made responsible for their mistakes and lose part of their honor for failing. We still blame people for failing instead of blaming them for not trying. For example surgeons have to watch their own success/fail statistic.

    If you fail to often your career is at risk. This results in declines of high risk or risk patients. Worse statistics mean worse career, so you don't take the risk and stick to the easier problems resulting in a lot of people who don't get a fighting chance because no one is willing to take the risk.

    In other lines of business people stick to the same routines for ages, because if a new method fails or doesn't show better results coworkers, employers or family might make fun of them or mob them. They might even lose their jobs. Often new ways are not better in the first place, because old ways are trained, learned, perfected and new ways still have those flaws that all new inventions have.

    ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down’. Doing something different might get you a lot of negative attention. Frequently inventors are treated like crazy people. More so if they fail frequently. It took Edison over 1.000 tries to create a working light bulb. After he made it people acknowledged his success, if he didn't people of his time would have called him a failure.

    And then there is the immediate danger of someone using your mistakes to have success. It's not nice to see someone learn out of your mistakes, save a lot of time and money and get what could have been yours.

    I think we need to change our opinion towards failure.

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