Design & Freelancing

Making Mistakes and Learning From Them

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We’re not machines and we make mistakes, all the time. What I hate about it is that many people feel sad after they make a mistake and lose the best momentum for resilience. All that is missing is a small mindset twist.

The connection between mistakes and success

Making a mistake means that you’ll never succeed in life? No. Definitely no.

Being successful isn’t easy. You can take any person’s success story and you’ll be able to see that in order to succeed, he or she certainly had to deal with many mistakes through the path they chose to follow.

We can make mistakes not only with big and difficult tasks. Is there anything more harmless than a paper sheet? Just try to slide your finger through the side of a thin paper and you’ll see how “dangerous” it can be –_ Please, don’t actually do it. I appreciate your care for your finger._

This is the thing most people don’t get:

Mistakes can happen anytime, anywhere and with anyone. It’s a common thing and because of that, we should consider it as an ordinary thing.

Many people get sad when they make a mistake, but if you let this sadness build inside you it will only bring you down.

Why you must be optimistic with something clearly negative

You must fix your mind every single time you encounter something negative in it. Evict it or fix it, it doesn’t really matter the way your handle it, just keep yourself away from it.

In 99,9% of the time, a negative thought will lead to bad experiences in life and the best way to live your life is by turning bad things into good things, considering them as learning opportunities.

Even mistakes that can lead to health problems or even worse, death, can be learning experiences if the person has the right mindset after the problem happens. It’s impressive the amount of people who had car accidents and that turned their disabilities into opportunities, becoming great athletes.

There’s always opportunity to find good things on bad things because all it takes is a change in mindset.

Mistakes in the Creative Field

Thankfully, most mistakes in the Creative Field are repairable. With losses, but definitely not the end of the world.

Since our field has a big focus on brainstorming and collaboration, many mistakes are spotted or evicted during those phases. They end up becoming only warning signs that something wrong is being made or thought.

That’s why it’s important for you to be open minded when collaborating and that’s why you should always value your client’s input. I’m definitely not saying to follow blindly every client’s take on a subject, but listening and evaluating is a clear characteristic of great Designers. 

Listening is also important for us because Design is one of the most multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary fields ever. We learn how to project and understand things as systems, but we deal with projects from all fields and it’s impossible to be expert on every subject on earth. We need to partner with our clients or with other creatives to create better things.

Even though it’s really important, listening isn’t the exact solution to learn from mistakes. In a fast life like ours, if we don’t see the same thing a couple times the information usually is lost.

Where can I apply this shift in mindset

Probably, anywhere. We can give you some examples like:

  • A bad discussion with your Significant Other
  • Your relationship breakup
  • The bad choice you made for lunch or for your route to work
  • The way your client stepped over you by defining things before consulting you.
  • That animation segment that you didn’t think of and that will change a significant segment of the animation
  • That illustration where you missed the hidden section of a character and that made your animator to lose 3 hours of work waiting for you to finish it

After you understand that mistakes are good, you’ll be a few steps away from understanding that big failures are also learning experiences. After that, the sky will be the limit for you because the things that make most creatives to fail on their path to success are either the lack of belief in themselves or the lack of preparation to deal with constant barriers and difficulties.

How I deal with it

I have a really simple technique that I use to improve myself. Every single time I notice myself making a mistake, I log it into an app called Workflowy – You don’t actually need to use that one. Choose an app of your own preference or use a simple notebook or even better, use sticky notes(post-it) because they will always be there to remind you of the things you need to improve.

The gist of this technique is to build a daily habit of reviewing your notes. Really, do it daily for your own best.

I like to review my notes before going to bed so I can reflect on them a little bit. After I wake up and before I jump to my desk I also review it. It’s the best way I found to make myself notice my mistakes and fix them.

Other than this, believe in yourself and understand that mistakes can be good for you too. You just have to learn how to handle them and your mind. The best way of doing this is by practicing, daily.

Have you ever turned a mistake into an opportunity of growth?
Tell us your story in the comments below!