“Learning from mistakes is not automatic. In order to learn from them we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them.” Eduardo Briceno
We know that “to err is human” and the best thing we can do is to accept that we will make mistakes and learn from them. However, according to Eduardo Briceno, the CEO of Mindset Works, there are four types of mistakes that are most useful in the learning process.
These four mistakes are: stretch mistakes, aha-moment mistakes, sloppy mistakes and high-stakes mistakes.
This Tip and the next three Tips will focus on each of these types of mistakes. We’ll begin by looking at stretch mistakes, as described by Mr. Briceno:
“Stretch mistakes happen when we’re working to expand our current abilities. We’re not trying to make these mistakes in that we’re not trying to do something incorrectly, but instead, we’re trying to do something that is beyond what we already can do without help, so we’re bound to make some errors.
Stretch mistakes are positive. If we never made stretch mistakes, it would mean that we never truly challenged ourselves to learn new knowledge or skills.
Sometimes when we’re stuck making and repeating the same stretch mistake, the issue may be that we’re mindlessly going through the motions, rather than truly focusing on improving our abilities.
Other times the root cause may be that our approach to learning is ineffective and we should try a different strategy to learn that new skill.
Or it may be that what we’re trying is too far beyond what we already know, and we’re not yet ready to master that level of challenge.
It is not a problem to test our boundaries and rate of growth, exploring how far and quickly we can progress. But if we feel stuck, one thing we can do is adjust the task, decreasing the level of challenge but still keeping it beyond what we already know.
Our zone of proximal development (ZPD) is the zone slightly beyond what we already can do without help, which is a fruitful level of challenge for learning.
We want to make stretch mistakes! We want to do so not by trying to do things incorrectly, but by trying to do things that are challenging.
When we make stretch mistakes we want to reflect, identify what we can learn, and then adjust our approach to practice, until we master the new level of ability.
Then we want to identify a new area of challenge and continue stretching ourselves.”
I recently tarried in my zone of proximal development when I had to learn how to adjust the leg rests on my mother’s wheelchair. This mechanical task was definitely beyond what I could already do without help. However, through much trial and error and pinched fingers, I did finally learn how to do it.
When were you last in your ZPD?
May your learning be sweet.