On Making Mistakes

Making mistakes? I could write a book about it!! My favorite principles about making mistakes come from Tom Peters and his books “In Search of Excellence” and “A Passion for Excellence”. These are 1980’s books with timeless value. One principle was “Fail Forward Fast”. If you can test changes in your process, take calculated risk, measure the impact and be willing to implement the change OR return to status quo, you can get better faster. Another favorite from Peters is “Ready, Fire, Aim”. It may not be originally from Peters but it’s the same principle of being open to trying new approaches in the spirit of continuous improvement.


Another model for accelerating wisdom by learning from your mistakes, and others, comes from Dr. Gerald Bell’s lessons on leadership. We use notebooks to write down findings and principles throughout the day in hopes of getting smarter, faster. By writing experiences and learning’s down, then reviewing them later, it helps us remember successes, failures AND reduces the likelihood of repeating mistakes. Most importantly, we can refer back to the principles and share them with others.


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