Learning Effectively

Turns Out People Shouldn't Try to Learn From Failure. On The Importance of Growing Success
People often say that failure is the best teacher. But is it really true?

A man slacklining above the void

First, let's define a few things :
Growing : It's when there's more of it and more of it and more if it ...
Success : When you expect something and it happens
Failure : When you expect something and it doesn't happen

If you expected the car to crash after you launched it against the other car at full speed, you did not fail, you succeeded to predict the outcome of your actions.

The problem with people who think that they can learn from failure is that they will not pay enough attention to their successes and try to learn from failure and then fail to learn.

The only way someone can learn is from success.

There is no other way to succeed than to try something often and repeatedly and see if it meets our expectations every time.

The greater amount of success you have the greater amount of success you will have, unless...

Unless you think that failure teaches anything.

Thinking that people can learn from failure is wishful thinking.

There is nothing to learn from failure.

Someone who tried to predict the outcome of some event 10 000 times, failed 9 999 times and then succeeded once hasn't learned more than the person who managed to succeed from the get go at the first trial.

Worse, when people fail they need to adjust their expectations and instead of shrinking the radius of their expectations for it to become more precise, they need to grow it to reduce the uncertainty.

When people fail they have to unlearn some of their failed assumptions, that's why failure can sometimes seem so painful.

From left, Orville and Wilbur Wright, in portraits taken in 1905, when they were 34 and 38 years old. Rare Historical Photos

The Wright brothers did not learn to fly by crashing the planes but by making them land successfully further and further from the start. They did this by learning how to control the plane. When they expected the plane to turn right, it turned right. When they expected the plane to pitch up, it pitched up. When they expected the plane to yaw, it yawed.

Learning is the outcome of paying attention to what caused success, that's why you shouldn't neglect the importance of milestones in your the path to accomplish your vision.

Succeed often, succeed early. Acknowledge when your expectations are met. Pay attention to what's working.
The ability to predict the outcomes of your actions is what makes the difference between an amateur and a professional.

All you can learn from failure is to avoid that particular kind of failure. And so what? There are too many other kinds of failure for that to make any difference. You need to learn from success.

You won’t make the same mistake twice, but you’re just as likely to make a different mistake next time. You might know what won’t work, but you still don’t know what will work. That’s not much of a lesson.

This article from the MIT shows that only after successes, not failures, the brain will process and the behavior improve.


How can you fail and still learn something eventually?

This study from the University of South California shows that you should frame your expectations as choices among options so when you fail you can regret that you didn't make another choice and eventually try another choice in the future and maybe succeed and learn instead of avoiding the situation in which you failed. (That's what casinos do to keep people playing)

You effectively set the failure as a mistake not a total failure : A wrong choice that could have been avoided.

Conclusion : if you make a mistake at least you can still play but every time you fail, you meet a dead end and you have to backtrack eventually to try another path.
Failure is not an option.

PS : Some people tell me that the article from MIT says 'more' in the title. Yes it says more, obviously because when you learn something from success and you learn nothing from failure you learn more from success. If you pay attention, they say that they observe no behavioral change from failure.


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