Ali Gordon


“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Or “Take chances. Make mistakes. That’s how you grow.”

There seem to be two schools of thought on this topic and finding the middle ground is very difficult. On the one hand there is the school of thought that you should learn from other’s mistakes which I think to an extent we all do on a general level. However there is an argument to suggest that you don’t learn as much when it’s others’ mistakes versus your own. The question is which one are you?

I can safely say I’m an advocate of making your own mistakes and learning from them. I find that often I need to make them for peace of mind. It could be that I don’t trust many others in their advice or judgement and therefore don’t trust what they have learned from their mistakes. It could also be that making your own mistakes lends itself to the fail forward type thinking aka make mistakes but keep moving forward.

Sometimes we can get scared or hesitant to make decisions because others around us will tell us what mistakes they made and what they’ve learned and in reality the nuance of the situation is that such a decision could and would likely have a different outcome for yourself. That outcome could be positive or negative but regardless the lessons to be learned would be different to someone else making the same decision.

Sometimes we can also become resentful of people where maybe we made a different decision than them. Maybe because of a mistake someone we know made in a similar (yet likely different) situation we made a choice that we didn’t fully back or went against our gut instinct.

When you are younger it’s a more obvious battle as you are a child or teenager wanting to be independent yet needing to learn from parents in order to learn about life and function in the real world. However, I think to some degree this battle still goes on throughout our lives even as we get older. It just changes. There will be people out there who have lost money in investments and that might put you off investing in something only to realise that you made the decision based on their mistake and possibly it wouldn’t have been a mistake for you.

I think autonomy is key and because of that I’m an advocate of the make your own mistakes approach. However this isn’t without its flaws and yet to go against the quote at the beginning of this post I would add that whilst you don’t have enough to make all the mistakes yourself it’s actually part of life to make them and getting comfortable making them yet learning from them is really an ever present reality of life.

Let me know what you think and which approach you adopt. Completely appreciate that it is such a personal area it will come down to what works for you.

Take care and stay safe.

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