Who likes making mistakes? Societal institutions and attitudes punish those that make mistakes. Mistakes are forbidden. This is why we hold acts of forgiveness in such high esteem.
I am not advocating that we intentionally make mistakes. I am suggesting that we need to change how we think about and act on them.
Dr. Montessori was on to something when she believed that children need to make mistakes. Adults need to make mistakes too, but with a caveat.
“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” – Jean-Luc Picard; Star Trek, The Next Generation
Regardless of whether you never watched or were a raving fan of this show, it had some brilliant writing. The contrapositive of this quote is also true: there are people that win despite making many mistakes.
Mistakes are a tool for development, but only when the environment supports development as an outcome. If the feedback from a mistake is timely and appropriate, the mistake leads to growth. Consider the typical grade school feedback loop: a student receives a grade on a test one week after test day. This does not lead to growth, but instead creates a disconnected feeling of satisfaction, apathy, or frustration.
On the other hand, drilling a hole in the wrong place on a wood board is a mistake with immediate consequences. The dowel will not fit. This mistake leads to immediate skill development.
Neuroscience has shown that creative ability is directly proportional to a comfort with making mistakes.
Mistakes are human, and creativity is valuable. (Especially now, where we need uncanny solutions to global problems!)
So, what is being taught in school? Avoid mistakes. What is learned on the job? Hide your mistakes.
Systemically, society’s feedback loops are not designed for mistakes or creative development.
Mistakes are bound to happen. Chewing out and attacking the mistake-maker should not be the default behavior if we want to create the fearless, creative individuals that the future needs.
Forgiveness should not be required and replaced with unconditional acceptance. I completely appreciate that this idea is utopian. Since we all make mistakes, is it really that unreasonable of a statement? In many situations, the interpersonal dynamics make this behavior very difficult. However, very difficult is simply difficult, not impossible.
We need a systemic overhaul toward social equity. As a social / impact entrepreneur, this topic is near the top of my list. One angle that I am taking toward social equity is under the lens of mistakes. Believing that either: 1) we are better than someone who has made a mistake, or 2) worse than someone who has not made a recent mistake are both distractions.
Let me explain.
Some present technologies are currently working against social good. A significant amount of time spent with technology is polarizing: ads, print / video media, and social media feeds condition us to believe that mistakes are grounds for attacking or judging people. These mediums play into a “good vs. bad” or “us vs. them” mentality which strips the target of redemption.
Focusing on someone else's mistake helps us forget our own. It has been ingrained in us since grade school that mistakes are bad. This focus on another is neither personal growth nor creative development. Rather, it leads to a pursuit of protecting one's own ego instead of helping the attacked. “I am glad that wasn’t me,” we may sigh in relief.
This is one of many reasons that Jade is being designed without direct Internet connectivity. Every technology is a medium, and I do not see a benefit to letting Jade become “yet another screen” that divides us.
More technology rarely leads to a good outcome, and our current trajectory is polarizing us instead of bringing us together. It is also diminishing our creative development at a time when we need creativity the most.
Like most worthwhile efforts, this shift will require a village. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
In past years, we have accepted that more technology will make things better. Unquestioningly, we rushed to blanket the Earth with unnecessary technology. And now, we are facing serious consequences as a result: to people and to planet. And recycling is not an answer.
Jade is rare. It is technology that does not lead to technological outcomes.
It is a tool for personal growth and creative development at a time when a planet and societies desperately need these two qualities. Shift Sight intends to irrevocably change how we interact with technology.
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.