The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

"How to Identify and Learn from Your Mistakes"

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As part of MLDP, we encourage students to take advantage of the Rockefeller Center's bonus content, which can be found on our Pinterest page by clicking here. We hope students can use the bonus content as a way of learning about real-life examples that draw on the material we teach in the program. For more information about MLDP, click here.

There’s a psychological study that tells us that people who are perfect are not as well liked as people who are flawed. As humans, while we may all strive and yearn for perfection, we are inevitably doomed to fail and make mistakes, even stupid mistakes that we wish to, but cannot, avoid. But making mistakes isn’t as terrifying as it sounds and is the source of human growth.

Scott Berkun, in How to Identify and Learn from Your Mistakes, mentions that there are four types of mistakes, with complex mistakes as the most intriguing as they push us to challenge who we are. Complex mistakes make us become better people and allow us to grow.

I like to believe I am someone who is open to making mistakes and admitting them. I feel like I embarrass myself every day. For example, this morning I tried to enter a building only to set off the fire alarm. Everyone was highly amused watching me open the door that was clearly marked “Fire Exit - Do Not Enter.” While these stupid mistakes are a little embarrassing to make, at the end of the day, I know they don’t reflect on my character.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. This past week, I ended up in an argument with a friend who said that my ego was too big. My first response was that she was wrong—her ego was clearly bigger. But maybe that’s the heart of my problem—that my ego is too big to admit my mistakes. This is a gross simplification of a very complex issue, but something I like to keep in mind when making mistakes is to always be humble and admit your mistakes.

Maybe my ego really is too big. No one likes to admit their flaws, but without this first step, we’ll never improve and become the best versions of ourselves.

--Written by Jasmine Xu ’16, MLDP Participant Fall 2013

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences