How little we learn

A couple of weeks ago I had (no) cause to be in an Accident and Emergency department. It is a tale of (my) muppetry that I shall feel secure enough to tell in, oh, fifty years or so.
For now, this; one of the doctors who saw me could have learnt a really good ‘differential diagnosis’ question to ask from the muppet in front of him (i.e. me). But because he was time-poor in the extreme, and because I had so clearly been a muppet, and – perhaps – because he realised he hadn’t been as sharp as he could?, he missed that chance.

Why don’t we learn from the mistakes we make, until and unless we have a) made them a thousand gazillion times and/or b) we get some serious and unmistakable feedback that *forces* a change?

Here’s a partial list, in no particular order… Help me here…

* Ego (lack of willingness to reflect)
* Lack of time to reflect
* Lack of the habit of reflection
* The difficulty of change even when we know we need to and we actually want to.

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6 Responses to How little we learn

  1. Add:

    * obliviousness that we’re making mistakes
    * being in denial that we’re making mistakes
    * fear about what will happen if we admit we’re making mistakes
    * a (self-limiting) belief that we can’t learn from our mistakes
    * not knowing how to learn from our mistakes

  2. leavergirl says:

    * ego
    * ego
    * more ego

  3. pendantry says:

    * not knowing what to do to correct the mistake(s) — and yet fearing to admit this lack (especially if in a position of power) (see ‘ego’, ‘ego’, ‘more ego’, perhaps also ‘superego’, possibly ‘id’, definitely ‘stupid’.)

  4. This is a great post. We spend so much time sharing our solutions and it’s really useful to talk about the stuff we can’t quite solve.

    I agree with your list and I the idea that crosses my mind is love. Love creates space for reflection and the possibility of growth.

    Sometimes, anyway.

  5. leavergirl says:

    Hey wibbler! Good to see you here. Perhaps one more thing needs urgently :-) to be added to this list: inability/unwillingness to admit the dreaded “I don’t know”. Corollary of course to not admitting to one’s ignorance is not admitting to needing to learn from the patient.

  6. rhizome says:

    So much of it seems to be driven by our fear that we are the only ones making mistakes (how ludicrous is that?). No-one else admits weakness (and we see mistakes as weakness rather than a golden opportunity to develop real strength), and we just don’t have the confidence to be the only one….

    The irony is that, as a facilitator, I find the moments when I make a mistake and consciously share it with a group are the moments when we suddenly get closer, the space suddenly gets safer and the real learning starts – when the group finally gets it that we’re co-learning!

    In mistakes we expose our humanity (often buried beneath social constructs such as ‘expert’ or ‘authority’), and humanity invites connection in a way that these constructs don’t, or so it seems to me.

    And I know Johnnie’s advocating not being too solutions focused, but I reckon that the mistake is the solution in the sense that it opens the door to more equal communication, to laughter (and occasionally a few tears), to honesty and much more.

    I’ve begun to really enjoy making mistakes (at least in this role!), which is good cos there’s lots to enjoy!

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