Experience teaches only the teachable

The most overrated skill is to never make a mistake. The most underrated skill is to never repeat one. We all make mistakes and we should learn from them, but when people say they learn from their mistakes it’s sometimes said as if it’s an immutable law, like gravity or thermodynamics. Mistakes are only a chance to learn, they do not guarantee any lessons or skills; mistakes, or experience teaches only the teachable.

The fact that we are slow to learn from mistakes has been repeated in different form, over and over:

“Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

George Bernard Shaw

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”

George Orwell
author joanne reed this is your quest aldous huxley quote
Experience teaches only the teachable

Without the ability to recognize mistakes, somehow accept them, then spark a legitimate change, we are doomed to repeat them perpetually. There is a better chance that experiences, or mistakes, will have value in the future when whatever went wrong is studied honestly and openly, including asking what could be stopping me from learning;repressing mistakes because they’re uncomfortable, shifting blame, or learning the lesson on a logical level but lacking the self-discipline to control the same impulse the next time it arises?

When it comes to thought and behavioral patterns, the combination of self-awareness and self-discipline is often necessary for the lesson to take root. People who are lacking these are doomed to repeat history.


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14 Comments »

  1. Agreed. One should take the opportunity to learn from a mistake but sometimes we need the right support structure to help us understand the impact and then develop ourselves.

  2. Great series of quotes. The Santayana one is one of my favorites.

    If everybody DID learn from their mistakes and history in general, just imagine how much different the world would be today.

  3. Most our us get hung up on our personal expectations and assumptions. This gets us every time. Then the news media promotes all the violence and sensationalism over and over again. We have a lot to learn!

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