Is Learning From Mistakes Overrated?

I’m currently rereading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (of 37 Signals) which challenges some of the conventional thinking about setting up and running a small business.

It contains the following interesting snippet:

Another common misconception: you need to learn from your mistakes. What do you really learn from mistakes? You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that? You still don’t know what you should do next.

Contrast that with learning from your successes. Success gives you real ammunition. When something succeeds, you know what worked – and you can do it again. And the next time, you’ll probably do it even better.


Success is the experience that actually counts.

That shouldn’t be a surprise: it’s exactly how nature works. Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building upon what worked. So should you.

In business there’s often a lot of hand-ringing about not repeating the same mistakes and regarding all projects as ‘learning and growing’ experiences (there’s also an enormous amount written about all this).

In my experience, failures are often overly gloomy and successes overly optimistic (which is perhaps just human nature at work). However successes rarely get the attention they need and deserve – it seems it’s just like the news where positive and uplifting items rarely feature!


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