Learning By Making Mistakes

So often we view failure as something to be avoided. It can be humbling, embarrassing, and even costly, but the question to be asked is, in our efforts to avoid mistakes, have we missed out on valuable opportunities for growth? Author, speaker and leadership expert John Maxwell recounts an interesting illustration in his book "Attitude 101". Experimenting with his system of grading, a ceramics teacher decided that one half of the classroom would be graded on sheer quantity of items produced. At the close of the semester, fifty pounds of pots would earn this group of students a perfect score, with a decrease in grade for fewer and fewer produced. Students from the other half of the classroom would be scored based on the quality of projects completed. In this scenario, students needed only to produce one perfect pot during the semester to receive an "A".

The results were astounding. The pot with the least imperfections was actually produced by the group of students being graded strictly on quantity. Maxwell explains that, because the 'quantity' group was "busily churning out piles of work", they were able to learn from their mistakes. The 'quality' group, on the other hand, spent so much time theorizing at the expense of practical hands-on application.

In Maxwell's opinion, "the process of achievement comes through repeated failures and the constant struggle to climb to a higher level."

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