Learning from Mistakes

Jamie Jamie Follow Jul 25, 2022 · 1 min read
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The ‘Frog and Peach’ comedy routine features Dudley Moore interviewing an eccentric restaurant owner played by Peter Cook. Cook describes in detail a failed restaurant that only serves a large frog with a peach in its mouth or a peach sliced open with tadpoles swimming in the area where the peach pit would be. When ask why the business failed Cook responds that he believes it had something to do with the menu. The punchline occurs when Dudley Moore asks, “But you’ve learned from your mistakes.” Peter Cook responds emphatically, “Yes! I can repeat them exactly.”

Knowing why a failure has occurred and what actions would have succeeded in avoiding the errors turns out to be more challenging than people often realize. The process of discovering the successful course of action is usually trial and error. Only when an attempt using the corrected approach has succeeded can you confirm you learned from the mistake.

Even when situations work out the way we want, it’s easy to mistakenly believe our actions are responsible for success. The causality between our actions and the outcomes may be incorrect. The outcome may have occurred no matter what actions we employ. Careful analysis and verification that a particular situation is fully understood can improve our chances of actually learning from a mistake rather than compounding our error by learning the wrong lesson.

Written by Jamie Follow
Hi, I'm Jamie, an author here at On Knowing. I hope these posts add to your understand of what knowledge is!