Learning from the mistakes of others

Finding the humility to not always need to make our own mistakes

For some reason—pride I suspect—we prefer to make our own mistakes.

We are each our own person and we want the freedom to explore life on our own terms. We want the chance to make our own mistakes, have our own failures.

This, we convince ourselves, is the truest form of learning.

Eleanor Roosevelt doesn’t agree:

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

It is worth noting that she doesn’t say we shouldn’t make our own mistakes. (We can and, inevitably, we will.) She is saying that life is too short to rely only on learning from our own mistakes.

Only the arrogant think they have nothing to learn from the mistakes of others.

Why repeat the mistakes that others have made if we can avoid them? Isn’t that a waste of time and life?

Why not focus on making our own, original mistakes as we seek to live life to the full, discover who we are, and make our dent in the universe?

The best way to increase our chances of making a meaningful mark in the world is to unashamedly learn from others. Scientists would never make progress if they endlessly repeated the experiments of other scientists, simply because they felt their experiements didn’t count as they hadn’t done them themselves. There lies stupidity! So why would we waste our lives repeating the mistakes of others?

No. We need to be wise. And wise people learn from every available source—including the mistakes of others.

We mustn’t let pride cause us to waste our lives repeating unnecessary mistakes.


Image: Dương Trần Quốc

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