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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 15 2013: People are afraid to make mistakes because of a deeply entrenched societal norm that communicates that a mistake is equal to failure. People don't want to fail. The problem is that the fear of making mistakes cripples people. People who are highly capable, people who are well intentioned, people who can make a difference will shy away from even attempting something because of the fear of failure.

    I agree with the referenced article, that we should absolutely celebrate mistakes, as scientists do. However, it should be noted that the even more honorable factor of mistake making that wasn't mentioned is that of the attempt, stepping up to the starting line. Whether or not you actually complete a task mistake free, you've set yourself apart from the masses who would rather not try then make a mistake if you simply try. There can be no success without an attempt.

    I am a middle school assistant principal and I see the fear of making mistakes holding hundreds of students back from meeting their full potential all too often. Fear related paralysis plagues our youth. The good news is, we can change that by modeling the necessity of attempting to achieve, by demonstrating willingness to try, to mess up, to learn, and to try again.
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      Jun 24 2013: I agree with majority of your opinions. But we need to separate mistakes. I realize more then 4 kind of mistakes exists, so it`s important to recognize it.

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