I was inspired by a blog I discovered today by Matthew Henkler on the subject of beginnings and how hard it is to start doing something and improving, not giving up…
He mentions the Expert problem – once you are very good at something you’d expect it to be easier to become good at other things too, but it’s not.
My view on this is that all children learn primarily from their mistakes and enjoy to fail. And then school comes in and rewards only when you don’t suck. And actually punishes every mistake you make, until you learn how to AVOID the situations at risk; so we become preconditioned adults, trying to take as little risks as possible, hiding our errors “in the backyard” and building a social image of ourselves based only on our glamorous moments.
This is quite disturbing.
I don’t know who my father was quoting some time ago, but he told me some people define an Expert as a person that has made all possible mistakes in a particular field. Well, school certainly does not help people become Experts, does it? Years after the end of school, it still haunts you, because you know “sucking sucks”…
Now if we consider this definition of an expert from another angle, a true expert has made so many errors in the process of becoming one that actually he may have undone the fear of error and he may even ENJOY making mistakes. It just might be easier for an expert to start learning something new…
The importance of making mistakes, or putting yourself in a position where mistakes can be made, their link with creative thinking, are better explained in one of the most viewed TED talk of all times by Ken Robinson.
All in all, in my job I cannot afford to make mistakes (I can make more mistakes than an airline pilot though). Nevertheless:
– mistakes are inherent to the human action and
– errors make me be better at what I do.
So I just deal with the contradiction.
It’s like something that is impossible but still exists – an image borrowed from Oriental philosophy – but more on that on a different occasion.
Oh yeah, one more thing – maybe next time I will write something on what I call the Myth of the Expert – a very deeply rooted myth in our modern society, meant to prevent people from feeling empowered to take action…
Mental note: writing late at night does not help my writing get clearer 🙂