Better By Mistake – Improve your life and performance by Alina Tugend

Japan vs. America

  • Educators need to focus on mistakes and why they were made rather then just giving the correct answer. This chapter focuses on the difference between Japanese and American cultures. The Japanese are more likely to see failures as an impetus to improve. They are more likely to be motivated by failure. They believe there is no peak point and don’t recognize limits. Effort and persistence are popular words in Japan. In the US, it is more important to do things effortlessly.

The Proper Apology

  • An apology should contain an acknowledgment of the fault or offense, regret, and responsibility for it, and if possible, a way to fix the problem. Accountability is an area where most people fall short. People are apt to overestimate the cost of apologies and underestimate the benefits. Patients will often forgo law suits if they get an explanation and an apology. An apology isn’t separate from the mistake, it’s an integral part of the lesson to be learned. Holding yourself accountable is also a much healthier coping practice. Confession is good for the soul and the body.

In Conclusion

  • The way we handle mistakes affects every relationship we have. It helps if we acknowledge the imperfection of others, sincerely accept apologies, and let go. Accept your own and others’ mistakes. Look at what really happens and try to learn rather than punishing yourself or blaming others. Emphasize effort and deemphasize results. Fear of failure will keep you from experimenting, taking risks, and challenging yourself. Although I have shared Tugend’s main points, her stories and research citations will help increase your understanding and improve your quality of life. Not bad!

Cool Quotes

  • “Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” unknown

Alina Tugend

  • Alina Tugend writes on education, environmentalism, and consumer culture for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Parents. Since 2005 she has written the biweekly consumer column “Shortcuts” for the New York Times business section. This eye-opening book features the big idea that embracing mistakes can make us happier and more productive in every facet of our lives. It examines the tension between the idea that we must make mistakes to learn, and the fact that we often get punished for them.
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