Deliberate Erring: A Good or Bad Idea?
I've made countless mistakes in my life and I'm well versed in what those mistakes were and when they occurred. I can probably tell you what I was wearing too. What I didn't know is there's an entire culture of people who believe that making mistakes purposefully is a great idea. It is called deliberate erring and there are a bunch of books espousing the benefits of making mistakes purposefully. Deliberate erring is not as literal as I initially thought it was. This doesn't mean telling organizers of an event that you will arrive at 8 pm and then arrive at 9 pm. It also doesn't mean taking a wrong turn on purpose while driving alone in the middle of the evening. Instead, it provides an alternative to old-school thinking that offers a new wayto learn in classrooms.
History is chock full of educators and business owners who have been employing deliberate erring. There are children in every class who won't talk because their fear of making a mistake is immobilizing. While in French class I used to knock a pencil off my desk every time my teacher asked a question. I don't believe she thought I was evading her, but probably thought I was all thumbs or pouce de nombreux. If a teacher establishes in a classroom that there is no wrong answer then children are less afraid to make mistakes and more apt to think of creative solutions to a problem. Of course, there are wrong answers, but creating an environment where our wrong answers could be validated is comforting. A teacher who uses deliberate erring has the opportunity to shape a child's future by teaching them that failure is part of life. A teacher could also use deliberate erring as a way to show it's completely acceptable to not have an answer to a question.
Fed Ex's distribution concept is a good example of deliberate erring in business. FedEx provides fast, dependable deliveries to more than 220 countries. However, when this idea was first discussed its inventor was considered a nut. While a student at Yale University, Frederick W. Smith, founder of Fed Ex only received an average grade for his paper that highlighted a new way to accommodate time-sensitive shipments. His idea was revolutionary and no one cared.
Now that I understand what deliberate erring is I realize I've been using it my entire life. This is not to be confused with my inability to work out math problems or read a map. There are many tasks that my brain will never understand and it would be correct to use the word dumb. Let's not call others dumb or go overboard with my honesty because that would be cruel. If deliberate errors are considered a way of making unpopular decisions then I am the queen of deliberate errors.
I quit a retail management job that I was good at for an opportunity to travel. After returning from a week's vacation at Club Med, I gave my notice on my first day back hoping to become a Club Med employee. This decision by any standard would be considered stupid. My advice to anyone would be to keep your job while looking for another one. However, I knew for whatever reason that I would get the job and ultimately be able to travel the world if I wanted. It was a fantastic decision and the best time of my life.
Moving to Hawaii was considered stupid by my immediate family. They didn't look at it as a chance for an excuse to take a beautiful vacation. Instead, I was going to a place where coconuts will be my only food and the hula my only form of entertainment. There was no contingent of people who said, "Sell everything you own, bring the remainder in a U-haul to your best friend and go to a place where you have no friends, family, or job." I've been in Hawaii for over twenty years and while I can't say if it was a good decision, I know that it wasn't a bad one.
Opening a pet sitting service was not a great decision by any stretch of the imagination. It was the mid-nineties and few pet owners had ever heard of pet sitting. Not only would I be leaving a well-paying veterinary assistant job, I would be losing any future referrals from veterinarian offices. It was these very places that would be making less money because I was offering a less stressful alternative to traditional pet boarding. I was sure that once pet owners understood what I was providing, they would be happy to use my service. I'm not saying it was easy, but it worked well enough that I could have hired sitters and made my small business into a big one if I wanted to. It was also not a wise decision to leave an office job in Hawaii that took forever to acquire so I could open another pet sitting service full well knowing pet owners had established relationships with existing pet sitters. While the pandemic has been a major blow to my business the only reason it hasn't ramped back up is that I'm taking the time to focus on other things.
There is an endless list of deliberate errors on my part that all worked out well. Yes, I take enough anxiety medication to down a horse, but I believe this doesn't have much to do with my personal choices, but with growing up in an intense family. Upcoming deliberate errors include embarking on pole dance lessons. With over two years of pandemic lethargy, I can't imagine regaining the strength to lift my body weight as I have done before. However, I made it through aerial silks with one major fall and two minor surgeries so I will eventually get where I want to go.
Who would have thought at 53 that the decisions I thought weren't wise are now defined as a mini-revolution in thinking? Could be a stretch, but I am willing to say that these errors in thinking were just my way of saying, "Maybe there isn't a right way to do anything. There are only choices."
Disclaimer: I am 8,000 lbs heavier than pictured. When you write your own blog, you can post whatever pics you want of yourself.
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