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An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it

10th June 2021

(Orlando A Battista ‘How to enjoy work and get more fun out of life’ 1957).

So what is the difference between an error and a mistake? Well according to one source, mistakes are an accident. You know it’s wrong, but the wrong word slips out. An error, on the other hand, is something you don’t know. It’s grammar you haven’t learned yet or vocabulary you haven’t learned the nuance of yet.

Sometimes we can make a mistake and get our words get in a muddle, but we know how to correct them. We may apologise for the mistake we have made and go ahead and put it right.

However, an error exposes an area in which we have yet to learn and in fact what makes an error interesting, is that it gives us a chance to learn something for the first time. And arguably there would be no progress without error.

In a world filled with uncertainty and unpredictability, we are bound to go through unforeseen rough patches throughout our life, whether it be at work, at home, or in our relationships.

This is because our minds are imperfect. We can’t account for all the factors that contribute to the outcomes in life. So sometimes it’s necessary for us to go through the pain of trial-and-error before we know the right path to take in life. It would be rare to always get everything right on our first try.

In many ways, trial-and-error is the only form of learning we really have. When we make an error, or fail at something, we give ourselves an opportunity to analyse that failure, make a change, and then try again. This process repeated over time is the only real, effective way we have to learn more about our world and solve problems in our life. It’s the engine of science. And it’s also the engine of self-improvement.

The Greek philosopher Socrates believed knowing what you don’t know was one of the most important steps towards true wisdom. As powerful as our minds can be, they are limited. Because our knowledge is imperfect, we sometimes need to endure the pain of trial-and-error before we can better understand something.

Sometimes no matter how many books and articles you read, or how many people you seek advice from, the only real way to learn is to experience it for yourself.

Seeking new experiences is a form of trial-and-error. When trying something new it’s not guaranteed that you will enjoy it – you may even hate it. But by being more willing to try new things, you can learn more about yourself and what you really like or don’t like.

Often there are times where you may not think you’ll like something, but once you get into it you find out it’s actually really fun. Other times you may think you’ll love something, but then you find out it’s not what you expected.

Just some of the ways in which we may apply trial and error in our lives is by:

  • Trying out many jobs before choosing a career path to pursue.
  • Experimenting with different hobbies before discovering a passion of yours.
  • Listening to different types of music to find what you enjoy most.
  • Eating different foods to see what fits best in your diet.
  • Approaching a personal problem from multiple angles.
  • Taking part in different sports and physical activities to see which you like best.

The more you’re willing to try new things, and occasionally make mistakes, the better you will understand yourself and improve your life in the long-run. I wonder what new things you will try out this summer?

Christine Crossley

An Error Tftw