WHEN A MISTAKE BECOMES AN OPPORTUNITY
When someone commented to Thomas Edison why he had failed 1999 times before he eventually managed to invent the light bulb, he replied, “Nonsense, it was a 2000 step process”.
When things don’t go the way I want them to go, it doesn’t mean I am a complete and utter failure. Collapsing in a heap and moaning for hours or days on end is not usually very helpful, nor is it likely to make you happier. The most useful way to respond is, however bad I feel, to ask yourself, “What did I learn from that?” “How can I do it differently next time so it won’t happen again, so that something different will happen?” This doesn’t mean that I don’t accept responsibility for making a mistake. In fact, it means that you accept responsibility by doing what you can to make amends and… move on having learned and acquired something new.
Considering mistakes as a source of learning doesn’t always come easily and needs practice. We are taught from early childhood that making mistakes is bad and is often punished. I still remember that if I made a spelling error in class, I had to write it out 100 times. We are conditioned to accept that mistakes are negative and no benefit ever comes from them. Fortunately, in recent times this is changing, but only very slowly.
The important thing to do is not to be too harsh on yourself. It’s OK to make mistakes. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t improve. Learn to equate a mistake with making progress. The most successful learners are those who take risks and are not afraid of making mistakes. Good teachers should never punish but give positive feedback, encouraging learners to investigate and do something differently. Focus on the solution rather than the problem.
To try things out, to ask questions, to feel unsure, to let your mind wander, to ask for help, to experiment, not to know, to practise, to ask for help and… to make mistakes.
Curiously, Thomas Edison lived by his beliefs in relation to others. Once he had finally invented a light bulb that worked, he gave the only one to his assistant who dropped it!!! After many hours of making a new one, he immediately handed it to the same assistant.
Happy English learning!!!